The jet will have some 43 improvements over the initial version

Ending the long wait on ordering an improved version of the Light Combat Aircraft TEJAS, the Cabinet Committee on Security (CCS) is expected to take a formal call on the Rs 38,800 crore ($5.1 billion) project for making 83 such jets over the next six-seven years.

The move comes almost 10 months after the Defence Acquisition Council in March 2020 announced “the procurement of 83 more advanced Mark-1A version of the aircraft (TEJAS)”. The decision of the DAC will need to be ratified by the CCS, which is headed by PM Narendra Modi. The CCS is expected to take up the matter next week, sources said.

The jet will have some 43 improvements over the initial version and two of limited series production jets are conducting trials. Among the other improvements, the major improvements are to enhance operational capability.

These include easier maintenance, active electronically scanned array radar, electronic warfare suite and beyond-visual range missile capabilities, that will include the Indian made air-to-air missile Astra MK-1. It will also have the ability to carry missiles for long range.

The move, once okayed, will take the number of TEJAS jets on order to 123 jets —in three variants, all powered by a general electric engine. So far 20 have been made in what is called the initial operational clearance version. Another 20 are being made in what is called the final operational clearance version. The remaining 83 will be called the TEJAS MK-1A.

The Aeronautical Development Agency under the DRDO has designed the plane while Hindustan Aeronautics Limited is the manufacturer.