MoD okays largest “Make in India” order for 83 Tejas Mark 1A - Broadsword by Ajai Shukla - Strategy. Economics. Defence.

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Wednesday 18 March 2020

MoD okays largest “Make in India” order for 83 Tejas Mark 1A

Each Tejas Mark 1A fighter to cost Rs 310 crore, making it a Rs 26,000 crore contract

By Ajai Shukla
Business Standard, 19th March 20

The Ministry of Defence (MoD) cleared an order on Wednesday for 83 Tejas fighters in an enhanced, more capable configuration, called the Tejas Mark 1A. The order, which will be executed by Hindustan Aeronautics Ltd (HAL), is worth about Rs 26,000 crore.

The Indian Air Force has already ordered 40 Tejas Mark 1 fighters, of which HAL has built and delivered 16. Now, with the Defence Acquisition Council (DAC) clearing the acquisition of 83 more fighters, HAL’s Tejas production line will be fully loaded for another five years.

“While orders of 40 Tejas aircraft had been placed with HAL in initial configurations, DAC paved the way for procurement of 83 of the more advanced Mark 1A version of the aircraft from HAL by finalising the contractual and other issues. The proposal will now be placed for consideration of Cabinet Committee on Security (CCS),” stated the MoD on Wednesday.

“This procurement will be a major boost to 'Make in India' as the aircraft is indigenously designed, developed and manufactured with participation of several local vendors apart from HAL,” stated the MoD.

As Business Standard reported earlier, the IAF and HAL have fixed the price of the Tejas Mark 1A at about Rs 310 crore per fighter. 

According to the agreed production schedule, HAL will begin delivering the Tejas Mark 1A fighters 36 months after the contract date. If the CCS clears the contract by mid-2020, the IAF will receive its first Tejas Mark IA in 2023.

With HAL’s Tejas production lines gearing up for delivering 16 fighters each year all 83 Tejas Mark 1A fighters would be delivered by 2028. 

At that stage, the IAF would be flying two squadrons (40 fighters) of Tejas Mark 1 and four squadrons (83 fighters) of Tejas Mark 1A.

The next stage in the Tejas programme would be to start manufacturing and inducting the Tejas Mark 2.

Girish Deodhare, chief of the Aeronautical Development Agency (ADA) – the Defence R&D Organisation agency responsible for the Tejas programme – described the Tejas Mark 1A as a bridge between the Mark 1 and the Mark 2, which will be bigger, more powerful and more sophisticated than the Mark 1 and Mark 1A.

The Mark 1 and 1A fighters are both light fighters, powered by the General Electric (GE) F-404 engine. The Mark 2 will be a larger, medium fighter which will incorporate the more powerful GE F-414 engine.

Deodhare told Business Standard that the “all up weight” (maximum take-off weight, with fuel and weapons) of the Tejas Mark 1 and Mark 1A is about 13.5 tonnes. However, the Mark 2 will take off with 17.5 tonnes, enabling it to carry more fuel and an 85 per cent higher weapons load.

While ADA is in charge of the Tejas programme, HAL is developing and building the Mark 1A. ADA will pitch in too, by contributing its expertise in avionics, flight controls, aerodynamics and structural analysis. 

HAL has been directed to build five new operational capabilities into the Mark 1A, including “active electronic scanned array” (AESA) radar, with multi-tasking capability that would give it a clear combat edge over other fighters in the region.

While the initial Tejas Mark 1A batches will field imported Elta AESA radar, later batches would incorporate the indigenous Uttam AESA radar, which DRDO is developing. The Uttam radar has already completed 11 successful test flights on a Tejas prototype and ADA says about two more years of flight-testing is needed before it is certified and ready for production. 

In addition, the Tejas Mark IA is being upgraded with an Israeli Elta “self-protection jammer” (SPJ), which confuses incoming missiles. Each Mark 1A fighter will carry a SPJ on a pod under its wing, enhancing its survivability.

The new Mark 1A will also incorporate a digital flight control computer with significantly higher processing power. That will allow ADA to add advanced capabilities in the flight control system.


  1. A good day for those championing the Tejas.

    However the real challenge on delivering starts now and it is important we see people start asking the following in terms of program management:

    1. What date is HAL forecasting for first flight of the Prototype Mk-1A.

    2. What date is HAL forecasting to hand over the Prototype to ASTE for user testing

    3. What are the tranches in which certain critical capabilities will be rolled out. Common sense says

    - Tranche 1. Mk-1A with Elta EL/M-2052 and Astra Mk1/I-Derby ER BVR AAMs
    - Tranche 2. Mk-1A with Uttam AESA and Astra Mk1 ER / Mk2 BVR AAMs
    - Tranche 3. Mk-1A with "AESA X" and "BVR X"

    Why tranche 3? There is a very high probability that either both or one of the homegrown efforts at AESA or BVR AAM will fail. That will require a new combination to be improvised.

    We will be totally ignoring both the LCA's checkered history as well as experiences of other programs like Eurofighter and F-35 if we think critical systems will all work as planned or will be delivered on time

    4. What are the dates for Tranche 1 and Tranche 2 IOC at least?

    It would be in the interest of those championing the Tejas to get answers to these questions ASAP and monitor these milestones if we are not to repeat past missteps.

  2. Will Tejas mark 2 be more or at least as potent as the upgraded mirage fighters we have.only then can we call the programme a real success.
    Comparing Tejas to the Migs and after flying the tejas saying they are better is frankly an embarrassment .

  3. I feel india lost lot time in ten years from 2004 to 2014 due to indecisiveness and I felt that they had given up on tejas and they did not want to develop it. It was opportunity lost and what did they spend in mirage upgrade with fifty million dollar a piece for just avionics upgrade. I felt that was the most useless upgrade with no AESA radar and no capability to fire meteor missile. They could have tejas to the MK1 standards. I am very happy that the way new FOC standard tejas is built. The electronic warfare suite is very good as it appears. I still believe that continuing with Kaveri engine with dry version is a good idea and that would eventually help in long run. I still feel developing HTFE 27 engine is a good idea and use better metallurgy or CMC you can increase the dry thrust by 4-5 KN and develop the after burning version. This should give sufficient power to jaguars and those developing this technology can eventually work on other helicopter engines and kaveri engines. A dedicated combined effort from institutions and industry would give break through. Try to built tejas MK 2 in a separate workshop and start flying it. Built AMCA and start flying it so that it can also be productionalised soon. Start using the newer versions of engines on civilian aircraft and start the sixty and hundred seater aircraft. This would give major boost to industry.

    I am be wrong in my inference but I am giving a totally unbiased opinion as per my experience. People may disagree but I feel the boldness that I see now in different versions of tejas shows maturity of the desiegn team. I again state tejas would be game changer and would be very cheap to fly and would be great interceptor plus it can destroy a full tank coloumn on the border , plus destroy supply coloumn and artillery cluster when it is guarding its own troop coloumn. It is very small and made up of composites with lowest frontal signature , you can imagine that F16 could not see the MIG 21 coming towards it in feb 2019 , then how can it see tejas. Tejas needs now is supporting hardware , Helena , sant missiles , guided bombs and long range very good AAM.


  4. NSR says ---

    Finally, it is progressing toward successful program...
    It will develop Indian aerospace manufacturing capabilities immensely...

    India must immediately order additional 20 to 40 Tejas I to fill the gap between now and Tejas IA manufacturing... This covers contingency situations of not getting Tjeas IA on time and also to improve the fighter numbers...

    India must also prepare plans to remanufacture older IOC aircraft starting with the first to get them to Tejas IA standard...

    India must also plan to introduce competition to HAL by roping in a private player...

  5. from where have you got the price? various portals are showing as 38000 cr which makes this plane costlier than Su-30mki!! they will definitely recover the development costs from this lot of 83. by the way why did IAF order such a odd number of jets? considering a sqn of 18 this is neither 4 nor 5 sqns.
    let us wait for the final contract. HAL is promising 16 birds a year whereas this year they are yet to hand over a single tejas to IAF!

  6. I liked the green LED on the new version of tejas that looks quite similar to F 35. Great job.


  7. If the Tejas1A is not equipped with a BBRAAM of of sufficient range it will be always be at a disadvantage compared to th F16,what are we doing to address this,more Rafales(2squad) with Meteors would have been much more sensible otherwise the result will be the same as in Swift Retort


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