In a big boost for defence under the Make in India initiative, Air Force Chief RKS Bhadauria on Monday said that the second squadron of Light Combat Aircraft (LCAs) worth over Rs 8,000 crore would be operationalised by the end of May.
Speaking to ANI, the Air Force Chief said the force is also expecting to finalise a contract worth around Rs 39,000 crore for 83 LCA Mark 1A Aircraft in the next quarter. "The first squadron is already operationalised. We were to operationalise the second squadron in April, we have resurrected the squadron. But due to COVID-19, it got delayed.
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Some work at HAL had stopped which has restarted. Hopefully, before the end of this month, we will inaugurate the second squadron of LCA. It's worth just in terms of aircraft and ground assets, will be upwards of Rs 8,000 crore," Bhadauria said here.
Speaking about the future programs on LCA, he added, "We are pushing hard for 83 LCA Mark 1A, that's our immediate focus area. Within the next quarter, we should be able to sign it. Most of the negotiations have been completed and I think the Ministry is going to move it in a month or so." He said that this project would range around Rs 39,000 crore.
Besides this, the Air Force Chief stated that they are also going to make good progress on the weapons side with Astra MK-1.
"We are pushing the Astra weapons, the Beyond Visual Range weapons order would be in place within about six months or so. Also, long-range precision-guided ammunition would be in place," he said.
Supporting the increase in the limit of FDI by the Centre from 49 to 74 per cent, the IAF chief said, "This will have a large impact as far as Make in India is concerned. The 74 per cent FDI limit should be seen with support measures for MSMEs, the broad directions towards public sector enterprises which have come out in terms of sectoral reforms, and the 74 per cent FDI."
"This will have a huge impact on Make in India for indigenous production. The industries should work towards utilising these reforms which have been put in place," he further said.