In a very significant moment for India's defence manufacturing sector, the Defence Acquisition Council (DAC), led by Defence Minister Rajnath Singh, has granted an Acceptance of Necessity (AoN) to buy 97 additional Tejas Mk-1A fighter jets and 156 Prachand combat helicopters.
Both deals are expected to be worth around Rs 1.1 lakh crore.
Apart from the Tejas Mk-1A and Prachand, the DAC, in the meeting held today (30 November), also cleared various other projects including the upgradation of 84 Sukhoi Su-30 MKI fighter jets, costing a combined total of Rs 2.23 lakh crore.
According to NDTV, this deal, if materialised, will be the largest ever order given to any Indian manufacturer. Both projects — Tejas Mk-1A and Prachand — will be manufactured by the state-owned Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL).
The IAF already operates more than 30 Tejas Mk-1, and another 83 Tejas Mk-1A are on order. Moreover, 15 Limited Series Production (LSP) Prachand combat helicopters are also under operation with both the IAF and the army.
Following the AoN, contract negotiations will take place, which will take some more time, and during which the exact costs of both projects will be identified.
The project to upgrade Russian-made Sukhoi Su-30 MKI jets with indigenous equipment, including a DRDO-developed Advanced Electronically Scanned Array (AESA) radar, modern computers, and electronic warfare (EW) systems, is expected to cost around Rs 64,000 crore.
With 260 Sukhoi Su-30 MKI in operation, the Russian-origin jets are the backbone of the IAF.
On the other hand, the LCH Prachand, designed by HAL, is specifically engineered to operate in high-altitude conditions. Of the 156 cleared, 90 Prachand helicopters are for the army, and the remaining 66 are intended for the IAF.
It is the only helicopter in the world with the capability to operate at altitudes above 5,000 metres and up to 6,000 metres while carrying a substantial offensive payload.
Prachand demonstrated this capability by executing successful landings at forward camps situated at Siachen, at an altitude of 4,700 metres above sea level, while carrying a 500 kg payload.
Editorial Associate at Swarajya. Writes on Indian Military and Defence.
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