The Indian Air Force (IAF) is likely to place an order for 83 Light Combat Aircraft (LAC) TEJAS MK-IA soon and expects deliveries to commence in three years, said Air Chief Marshal R.K.S Bhadauria in an interview to the media

The Indian Air Force plans to switch to the locally-manufactured Light Combat Aircraft, TEJAS, two years after it floated a tender from international producers for 114 aircraft. Indian Air Force (IAF), 83 more jets will be bought from Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL).

The purchase, in addition to an earlier deal to buy 40 of the aircraft, will cost $6 billion. CDS Rawat earlier this month during a media interaction maintained that the induction of the TEJAS into the IAF will help establish India as an important defence exporter due to the relatively low prices.

The move will be a milestone in India's bid to start using locally-made weapons, even though there will be some quality issues in the beginning, the CDS was quoted as saying.

In addition to the jets, artillery guns, air defence systems and radars will be indigenously produced as well, he said. “We are also looking at ammunition manufacturing in our country in a very big way," he added.

India had invited bids for the purchase of the 114 jets in 2018, which attracted offers from Boeing, Lockheed Martin and SAAB AB of Sweden worth $15 billion. This comes as a sign that the country seeks to abandon expensive defence purchases from abroad.

In 2015, the long-awaited order worth $11 billion for 126 Rafale jets from the French Dassault Aviation was scrapped.

The IAF has supported the program to induct indigenous fighter jets, but the process is riddled with glitches like faster delivery schedules and quality issues.

In the long run, the IAF will have 123 TEJAS Mk-I/IA and around six squadrons of TEJAS Mk II. Eventually, the aim is to boost IAF's capabilities with the fifth generation plus AMCA. The IAF’s current induction plan, coupled with capability enhancements underway through upgrades of many aircraft and weapons, will take care sufficiently of its current threat scenario in the short term.

Bhadauria said that IAF is assisting HAL with concurrent user assisted trials on HTT-40 to cut down on development timelines. IAF expects to start receiving the trainer in 2022 and complete deliveries of 70 aircraft in four years. The HTT-40 will augment the already inducted trainer aircraft in a three-stage training program. It should be noted the program to develop a basic HTT-40 trainer is nearly six years behind schedule.

He added that the exact cost details of the HTT-40 are being worked out by HAL.

The 123 TEJAS fighters are to be followed by the Mark-II variant which are medium weight fighters. HAL is also likely to change the nomenclature of TEJAS Mark-II fighters being manufactured at a brisk pace at a brand new factory in Bangalore.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi has made it clear that India will reduce its dependence on weapons made abroad. Earlier this month, he stressed on the need to buy local in order to give a push to an economy hard-struck by the COVID-19 pandemic.

On Wednesday, Bhadauria flew a TJEAS, which is part of the IAF’s 45 Squadron, at the Sulur air force station. He was in Sulur to operationalise the IAF’s 18 Squadron, called the Flying Bullets.