New order for LCA Tejas, LCH Prachand helicopter: India’s apex defence procurement body, the Defence Acquisition Council (DAC) Thursday cleared the procurement of indigenously designed and developed 97 Light Combat Aircraft Tejas Mk 1A and 156 Light Combat Helicopters from state owned aircraft and helicopter manufacturer Hindustan Aeronautics Limited. The approvals also involve other major defence procurements and upgrades entailing an expenditure of around Rs 2.23 lakh crore ($27 billion).
According to a Defence Ministry statement, the DAC has granted Acceptance of Necessity (AoN) for the procurement of LCHs for the Indian Air Force and the Army and LCA Mk 1A for the Indian Air Force.
The apex defence procurement body clears major capital acquisitions for defence forces which are then placed before the cabinet committee on security (CCS) for final approval.
Both the orders were already in the pipeline. While addressing the media in October, IAF Chief Air Chief Marshal Vivek Ram Chaudhari had said the contract for the additional 97 Tejas Mk 1A jets is expected to be signed by the end of the year.
The new order for 97 Tejas combat aircraft will be an addition to the 83 jets ordered for the IAF in February 2021.
Firepower for Indian Army, Air Force
The IAF and the Army had raised a squadron each of the indigenous Light Combat Helicopter Prachand. Of the 156 additional LCH to be procured, 90 are likely to be for the Army and 66 for the IAF.
The DAC also cleared the proposal to upgrade part of its Su-30 MKI fighter jets that will be carried out by the HAL.
The Defence Acquisition Council, which is headed by the Defence Minister, is among the top bodies for clearing major capital acquisitions for defence.
The Acceptance of Necessity is only the first formal step in the long defence procurement process. Grant of an AoN is start of a long drawn process to eventually acquire a weapon system for India’s military.
As per the ministry, 98% of the total AoN amount will be sourced from domestic defence companies.
Other capital procurements, which were granted AoN by the DAC, included two types of anti-tank munitions — Area Denial Munition (ADM) Type – 2 and Type-3.
Moreoever, to replace the Indian Field Gun, which has completed its service life, the DAC cleared procurement of indigenous Towed Gun System (TGS), which is set to become the mainstay of the Indian artillery.
Procurement of 155 mm nubless projectiles for use in 155 mm artillery guns of the Army to enhance their potency were also cleared by the DAC. Moreover, AoNs for procurement and integration of Automatic Target Tracker and Digital Basaltic Computer for T-90 tanks of the Army, Medium Range Anti-Ship Missiles for the Navy were granted by the DAC.