Sources in HAL said that the company would like to see more indigenisation of the aircraft

The state-run Hindustan Aeronautics Ltd hopes to increase indigenisation of Light Combat Aircraft TEJAS from the existing 52% to 65%.

The TEJAS aircraft may be described as an Indian innovation but nearly half of it is being held up by international manufacturing in avionics and propulsion. Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL) says it is aiming to drive up the indigenised content of the aircraft.

Faced with the pressures of 'Atmanirbhar Bharat', HAL’s Chairman and Managing Director R Madhavan said the company will attempt to increase the TEJAS’s indigenised content from the current 52% to 65%. He was speaking at the recently-concluded Aero India 2021.

However, Madhavan added that much of the attempted increase in indigenisation content will be made through raw materials, as the company is finding it difficult to source many key technologies in India. 

“So far, some 463 vendors are involved in the TEJAS project, including both MSMEs and bigger tier-1 companies. Five major suppliers, including Larsen & Turbo are giving us structures. This number will go to 550 - 600 by the end of this year, because more and more MSMEs will be coming forward," Madhavan said.

He added, however, that the increased indigenisation would only happen if "some of tier-3 and tier-2 vendors [in India] become tier-1 and give us system and line replacement units (LRUs) as finished units."

LRUs are modular systems, which range from carbon disc brakes to high-grade materials and to advanced sensors, which are integrated into the aircraft by HAL, in its capacity as lead integrator. According to data, the company sources 344 LRUs from 76 companies, of which 49 are international companies such Eaton Aerospace, Elbit, Intertechnique and BAE Systems. 

Sources in HAL said that the company would like to see more indigenisation of the aircraft, although the US-supplied power plant constitutes a major chunk of the foreign components in the aircraft, which cannot be eased out through indigenization at the moment.

Madhavan described the future advanced medium combat aircraft (AMCA) as being a more watershed moment for HAL than the TEJAS MK-IA, 83 of which were recently ordered by the Indian Air Force.

"Even when we talk about TEJAS and for that matter, our rotary wings, the LUH and LCH, there are many items we still have to get from outside because off-the-shelf I am not getting those items in India. HAL cannot make all the items that are required," he said.

The company said it "proactively identifies items for indigenisation to mitigate obsolescence issues on a continuous basis.... HAL indigenises approximately 1,000 types of items per annum with internal sources and through Indian private partners as well."