When Defence Secretary Giridhar Aramane inaugurated the third production line of the Tejas fighter jets yesterday, the onus to lead the country’s quest for self-reliance in the military aviation sector fell on Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL).
The third Tejas production line having a capacity to make eight jets annually has been opened at Nashik. It follows two other similar production lines at Bangalore and now, the collectively capacity is to produce 24 jets per year.
The Indian Air Force (IAF) has placed an order with the HAL to produce 83 Tejas Mk1A jets. HAL has till now delivered 40 of the existing variant of Tejas to the IAF. The production of Tejas Mk1A will start in February next year. CB Ananthakrishnan, CMD, HAL, said, “The new production line will enable the company to enhance Tejas Mk1A production capacity from 16 to 24 aircraft per year.”
HAL already has a vendor base of private sector as well as public sector undertakings. Private vendors are engaged in manufacturing and supply of parts, sub-assemblies and major structure modules of the Tejas. Dynamatic Technologies, VEM Technologies and Alpha Tocol make various parts of the Tejas fuselage. Larsen & Toubro makes the wings, while TASL makes the fin and rudder assembly.
The Defence Secretary said, “The HAL will be producing more in the coming years. It will build more systems, come out with new concepts and new platforms for future growth.”
He also urged the HAL to take up new initiatives to aggressively compete in the defence market and look into new areas like unmanned vehicles as the country is in need of these advanced systems.
The speed at which the HAL delivers will be vital to the Indian Air Force. Tejas Mk1A is to be followed by 108 Tejas Mk2 jets, 126 jets of the advanced medium combat aircraft and 100 twin-engine deck-based fighters for the Navy. Another order of 50 Tejas Mk1A jets is expected. These numbers are separate from the 114 jets the IAF wants through a global tender to be made in collaboration with a foreign partner in India.