Welcoming the government's approval to the TEJAS deal, chief of state-run aerospace behemoth Hindustan Aeronautics Limited R Madhavan on Wednesday described it as a major shot in the arm towards India's goal of achieving self-reliance in the aerospace and aeronautics sector. The Cabinet Committee on Security (CCS) chaired by Prime Minister Narendra Modi approved the much-awaited deal worth Rs 48,000 crore to procure 83 indigenously-developed Light Combat Aircraft TEJAS from the HAL to boost Indian Air Force's combat prowess.

Madhavan, chairman and managing director of the HAL, said the production rate of TEJAS is being augmented from eight to 16 aircraft per year through creation of new infrastructure in Bengaluru. "Thanks to the government, the TEJAS program has received a major shot in the arm in boosting the Aatmanirbhar (self-reliance) drive in aerospace and aeronautics," he said when asked about the government's approval.

"TEJAS would have the highest level indigenisation in comparison to any program of this scale with progressive indigenisation of critical technologies," he said. In a statement, the Defence Ministry said the government approved procurement of 73 TEJAS of MK-1A variant and 10 TEJAS MK-1 trainer aircraft. The TEJAS Mk-1A will be equipped with active electronically scanned array radar, beyond visual range missile, electronic warfare suite and air-to-air refuelling and would be a potent platform to meet the operational requirements of the IAF, officials said.

"TEJAS program follows the system integrator model and has created a national aerospace ecosystem with the participation of approximately 560 companies from large to SMEs which encompass all the facets of aircraft design and manufacturing," Madhavan said. He said according to estimates the TEJAS programme will generate direct employment to 5,000 people across the country. "Till date the TEJAS programme is estimated to have produced 50,000 primary and secondary jobs across the nation. For the first time in the nation's aerospace history TEJAS program enabled partnership with Indian private players to manufacture aircraft fuselage and wings," he said. Around three years back, the Indian Air Force had issued an initial tender for procurement of 83 TEJAS aircraft, a four-and-half generation combat jet which is manufactured by State-run aerospace behemoth Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL). The IAF has already inducted a batch of TEJAS aircraft as part of its initial order of 40 jets.

The ministry said the government has also approved infrastructure development by IAF under the project to enable it to handle repairs and servicing at its base depots so that the turnaround time of the aircraft could be reduced and their availability can be increased for "operational exploitation". The government has been majorly focusing on boosting domestic defence production and set a target of Rs 1.75 lakh crore (USD 25 billion) turnover in defence manufacturing by 2025. According to estimates, the Indian armed forces are projected to spend around USD 130 billion in capital procurement in the next five years.

In May, Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman rolled out a number of reform measures for the defence sector, including making separate budgetary outlay to procure Indian-made military hardware, increasing FDI limit from 49 per cent to 74 per cent under the automatic route and generating a year-wise negative list of weapons which won't be imported.