Bengaluru: Prime Minister Narendra Modi visited Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL) after his maiden sortie on Light Combat Aircraft ‘Tejas’ twin-seater aircraft in Bengaluru, Karnataka on November 25, 2023. He became the first Indian Prime Minister who took a sortie in Tejas – an indigenously designed and developed fighter aircraft.
The Prime Minister had a look at production facilities of LCA Tejas aircraft in Bengaluru and was briefed about the technology intensive work being done at HAL towards realising the vision of ‘Aatmanirbhar Bharat’. He was apprised about the initiatives being taken by HAL towards ramping capacities and capabilities.
The Prime Minister visited the LCA Tejas Final Assembly and discussed capabilities of the aircraft. He was briefed about the capabilities of Tejas – a lightweight, all-weather multi-role aircraft. Tejas has been operationally deployed with the Indian Air Force and will be the mainstay of the fighter fleet in years to come. The aircraft is capable of undertaking offensive air support role as well as ground attach roles and is quite superior to its contemporaries.
The Prime Minister walked through the production line of LCA Tejas and interacted with the Engineers on the various features of the aircraft. It was explained that the aircraft is presently powered by GE 404 engine which will get upgraded to GE 414 Engine for LCA Mk II which will be manufactured in India with 80% Transfer of Technology arrangement with GE Engines for which the MOU has been signed with GE Engines. This will be the first time that an engine of this class will be produced in India with 80% Transfer of technology. This transfer of technology is likely to bridge the technology gap that exists currently in the aero engine domain of the country.
The Prime Minister was briefed about the capacity investments being done by HAL to produce LCA Tejas aircraft in greater numbers. The HAL has established two production lines of LCA Tejas at Bengaluru, which can produce up to 16 aircraft per year. Further, an additional production line is being established at HAL, Nasik to take the production rate beyond 24 aircraft from 2024-25 onwards. HAL is planning to advance the deliveries of current and future order of LCA Tejas to its customers.
The Prime Minister discussed the extent of indigenisation efforts of LCA Tejas. HAL had displayed various indigenously developed and produced systems including the Digital flight control computer (DFCC) and Open architecture computer(OAC) with the support of DRDO, DPSU’s and Private industry along with HAL. It was further explained that Flight controls, Fuel systems, Hydraulics, Air-conditioning, Mission and display systems have also been indigenised. Prime Minister was informed that HAL is striving to take the indigenous content of the aircraft beyond 70% in the next 3-4 years under the indigenization drive as part of Aatmanirbhar Bharat vision and take India towards self-reliance into defence and aerospace.
The Prime Minister appreciated the capabilities of indigenously developed LCA Tejas aircraft and production facilities available at the HAL. He was also briefed about the progress on LCA MK1A programme. The production of fighter aircraft against 83 Mk1A order concurrent with its design and development is under progress at HAL. Mk1A variant will be a more lethal aircraft with capabilities such as AESA Radar, BVR Missile capability, EW suite, advance avionics, and maintenance improvements. The deliveries of MK1A aircraft are planned from Feb 2024 onwards to IAF.
Various indigenous helicopters such as Light Combat Helicopter (LCH) Prachand, Advanced Light Helicopter-WSI Rudra and Light Utility Helicopters were also showcased to the Prime Minister.
The HAL briefed the Prime Minister on the combat and performance capabilities of Prachand with emphasis on the high-altitude employability in Leh/ Ladakh and eastern Himalayan sectors. It was informed that the helicopter can fly upto 6 km altitude. He was also briefed that the LCH has already been deployed with the Army and IAF and there is an additional requirement from the defence forces for 156 Prachand helicopters for enhancing the defence preparedness of the nation and its efforts toward Aatmanirbharta.
The electronic warfare system, armament and troop-carrying capability of Rudra (ALH MkIV) helicopter was also showcased. The Prime Minister was briefed on the slew capability of gun to the target as demanded by the pilots, and he was briefed how the same is achieved either through the electro optical pod or pilot helmet mounted sighting system.