LCA Tejas Fighter Jet price can’t come down
Even as the Indian Air Force has got the Defence Ministry’s nod to get the Light Combat Aircraft (LCA) Tejas’s price reviewed by a committee following reports that the Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL) has quoted an exorbitant price for the MK-1A version of the aircraft, the Bengaluru- headquartered defence Public Sector Undertaking has defended its price tag.
Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman last week said that a committee had been formed to look into the cost of products manufactured by defence Public Sector Undertakings and among the first products that would be examined is the LCA MK-1A.
HAL had in April reportedly quoted Rs 463 crore for LCA MK-1A which is said to be more expensive than the frontline fighter Sukhoi 30 Mki or other fighter jets of the Tejas’s class.The committee, headed by Defence Ministry’s Director of Costs, has been given 60 days time to review the cost of the LCA MK-1A.
HAL has a Request for Proposal to supply of 83 LCA MK-1A aircraft.The production of the 83 LCA MK-1A aircraft will start after the first 40 aircraft which will be the Initial Operational Clearance (IOC) and Final Operational Clearance (FOC) configuration aircraft order is completed. The production will happen from 2019-2020 onwards.
An HAL official, while defending the quoted price, said that the LCA MK-1A aircraft will have many advance features which include Active Electronically Scanned Array (AESA) radar, additional electronic warfare suite, special data link packages, self protection jammer, satellite navigation systems, improved flight control, electrical and electronics system among others”.
“The LCA MK-1A with all these hi-tech features will be a 4.5 generation aircraft and it is unfair to compare it with cost of the Sukhoi 30 Mki which is a fourth generation aircraft. Besides the production of the 83 aircraft will start in 2019-2020 or there after the production cost during this period will be higher than it is now,” the official said. To manufacture the 83 Tejas MK -1A aircraft and speed up the production of the aircraft from 8 to 15 per year, HAL has readied a second assembly line which was earlier used to manufacture Hawk trainer aircraft.