India signs its biggest Make in India defense deal, 83 LCA Tejas
On Wednesday, the Indian government locked in a ₹ 48,000-crore deal, with state-run aerospace giant Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL) at Aero India show held in Bengaluru. The contract included the delivery of 83 indigenous fighter jets LCA Tejas to the Indian Air Force. The deal, which was signed in presence of defense minister Rajnath Singh, provided a major boost to indigenous military technology and hence was called the “biggest Make In India defense contract”. The deal gained the approval of the Union cabinet headed by Prime Minister Narendra Modi last month.
Besides the massive defence deal, on Tuesday, Singh inaugurated HAL’s second LCA plant in Bengaluru, to enhance the company’s production capacity of the Tejas to 16 aircraft a year. During the opening, Singh said, “Tejas is not only indigenous it is also better than its foreign equivalents on several parameters and comparatively cheaper. Many countries have shown interest in Tejas.” He added that India cannot afford to remain dependent on other countries for its defense capabilities.
With regard to the recent defense pact, HAL committed to delivering 83 fighter jets to IAF within a decade, starting 36 months after the signing of the deal. The company said in its statement, “The program will catalyze the aerospace ecosystem in India and would enable India to be the epitome of the prime minister’s vision for Aatmanirbhar Bharat.”
Singh emphasized that the country has been looking at spending “USD 130 billion on military modernization in the next seven to eight years”. The government has been focusing on developing India’s indigenous defense sector capabilities, in line with its Atmanirbhar Bharat and Make in India campaigns, promoted by the Modi government. Singh clarified that though the sector was open for foreign participants as well.
“The Government of India has enhanced foreign direct investment in defence by up to 74 percent through the automatic route and 100 per cent through the government route,” he said. He also spoke about the step the government was taking to encourage “domestic manufacturing of bigger and complex defense platforms”.
Singh, who was on a three-day visit to Bangalore, also inaugurated the 13th edition of Asia’s premier aeronautics and defence exhibition. As per the reports, the show witnessed about 601 exhibitors – 523 Indian and 78 foreign from 14 countries. During the event, Singh commended the response from the business community all across the world and said that their “enthusiasm to the Indian economy’s revivalist fervour and Aero India will further showcase the nation’s accomplishment in defence manufacturing and position India as an innovative defence manufacturer”. Singh added, “The world has now started to recognize India as a trusted defence investment destination.” This year’s air show is expected to seal about 200 preliminary pacts between Indian companies and their foreign partners.