Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL) will begin delivering 24 Tejas Mk-1A fighter jets annually by the 2025-26 timeframe, says HAL chief C B Ananthakrishnan.
In an interview with Hindustan Times, the HAL chief, when asked about the maximum annual production capacity of the Tejas Mk-1A fighter jet, stated, "Our current goal is to deliver 24 aircraft from the Bengaluru and Nashik facilities by 2025-26."
He also mentioned that once HAL achieves the goal of producing 24 jets annually, they will explore increasing production to 30 aircraft per year, by streamlining the supply chain.
"Once we have reached that goal, we can ramp up production to 30 aircraft per annum. It is possible if we can streamline the supply chain," the Chief added.
Ananthakrishnan expressed his desire to dispel the notion that HAL cannot produce aircraft in large numbers.
He stated, "First we have to prove we can deliver 24 as there’s a general sense that HAL is not capable of producing aircraft in big numbers," adding, "More numbers are achievable as we know what our capacities and capabilities are. We are focussed on making more numbers available to our customers as soon as possible."
Furthermore, when asked about the status of the first serial production, Ananthakrishnan stated that the first Tejas Mk-1A aircraft is already in production and will soon undergo 'equipping.'
"The first Mk-1A will be delivered to Indian Air Force (IAF) in Febraury 2024, and the last by 2027-28, — a year ahead of the contracted delivery schedule," he stated.
The flight certification process is also in full swing by the Centre for Military Airworthiness and Certification (CEMILAC) in Bengaluru and will be completed in the next two to three months.
"As far as the first aircraft goes, the certification process of the new systems is underway by the Centre for Military Airworthiness and Certification. Most of this has been done, and only three or four more systems need to be certified. It should happen in the next two to three months," the HAL chief stated.
The IAF had previously in 2021, placed an order for 83 Tejas Mk-1A fighters worth Rs 48,000 crore, with deliveries scheduled to be completed by 2029.
However, with this increased production rate, the 83 Tejas Mk-1A order will be fulfilled a year earlier, in 2028.
In September, IAF Chief ACM V R Chaudhary had announced that IAF will buy 97 more Tejas Mk-1A fighter jets. The Defence Procurement Board (DPB) recently approved this acquisition worth Rs 67,000 crore.
Production of Light Combat Helicopter (LCH)
HAL has completed the production of the 15 limited series production LCH and is fully prepared for serial production once bulk orders are received.
The HAL chief also stated that they are aiming to increase the production rate of the LCH from the previous 12-15 units to 25, with the goal of completing the total anticipated order of 156 LCH within five to six years.
"We want to deliver good numbers every year, instead of the normal 12-15. Our target will be to execute this order in the shortest possible time, in five to six years. That’s around 25 choppers per year," he explained.
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