The progress of the Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL) Tejas MK-1 build program has become a matter of intense interest for the public. As such, earlier today, a written reply was submitted by India’s Minister of Defence for State, Dr. Subhash Bhamre, to a question related to the status of the Tejas Mk-1 build program. The detailed reply reveals that as reported by Delhi Defence Review earlier, efforts continue to double unit production as well as move HAL firmly into a lead-integrator role for the Tejas by outsourcing as many sub-assemblies as possible.
Progress on Existing Contracts
The Indian Ministry of Defence (MoD) says that two contracts till date have been signed between the Indian Air Force (IAF) & HAL for the procurement of:
(i) 20 Initial Operational Clearance (IOC) standard aircraft on 31st March
2006 to be completed by December 2011 and
(ii) 20 Final Operational Clearance (FOC) standard aircraft on 23rd December 2010 to be completed by December 2016.
With respect to progress made on the above contracts, Dr Bhamre in his reply says that out of a total of 20 IOC aircraft (16 fighters and 4 trainers), 9 fighters have been delivered by HAL to IAF till date. The production of the remaining 11 IOC aircraft (7 fighter + 4 trainer) has been taken up at HAL. (Of course, the tenth IOC standard aircraft, Tejas SP-10 flew for the first time a few days ago). The IOC standard MK-1 is currently capable of undertaking ‘air defence operations’ and conventional ground attack with heavy bombs. Production of the 20 contracted FOC aircraft, will be taken up after FOC clearance by the Aeronautical Development Agency (ADA) for which the current target date for completion is December 2018, according to Dr Bhamre.
The written reply by Dr Bhamre says, that ‘in order to fast track the production of Light Combat Aircraft (LCA) Tejas and to achieve FOC clearance given by ADA, the following initiatives have been taken’:
• For ramping up production capacity from existing 8 aircraft to 16 aircraft per annum, Government of India (GoI) has sanctioned Rs.1381.04 Crore in March, 2017.
• Enhancing production rate of LCA Tejas primarily through outsourcing of major modules to private partners with HAL moving to the role of lead integrator.
• Establishment of second line for structural and equipping activities at Aircraft Division, HAL.
• Increase in number of jigs for Front fuselage, Centre fuselage, Rear fuselage and Wings.
• Reduction in manufacturing cycle time through improved Supply Chain Management, learning and augmentation of manpower.
• Modularization of electrical looms for reduction of cycle time of aircraft looming.
On the Tejas MK-1A
Dr Bhamre also points out that besides the 40 aircraft (20 IOC & 20 FOC) already contracted, the MoD’s Defence Acquisition Council (DAC) has cleared the acquisition of 83 LCA Mk1A for the IAF and the quotation for the same has been submitted by HAL.
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