BANGALORE: Buoyed by the recent Cabinet Committee on Security (CCS) approval for procurement of 83 Light Combat Aircraft (LCA) TEJAS MK-1A aircraft worth Rs 47,000 crore, Defence PSU Hindustan Aeronautics Limited is all geared up to make operational a dedicated second TEJAS plant in Bangalore.

The new plant at Doddanekundi here, according to sources in HAL, will be inaugurated by defence minister Rajnath Singh on Tuesday. “The plant, when commissioned fully, will be able to produce 16 TEJASs per year. We’ll make the TEJAS MK-1A and the trainers here,” one source said.

At present, HAL has the capacity to manufacture eight TEJASs per year. The first dedicated TEJAS plant and HAL’s Aircraft Division are both producing them. “The plant that will be inaugurated by the defence minister will technically be the third, given that the Aircraft Division also make TEJASs now,” the source said.

The TEJAS MK-1A aircraft worth Rs 46,898 crore - 73 fighters and 10 trainers - cleared by the CCS on January 13, will have 43 “improvements” over the TEJAS MK-1 jets which the IAF has already placed orders for earlier.

The order/contract for the new 83 aircraft is expected to be placed during the upcoming Aero India show. “From the date of the signing of the contract, HAL will have 36 months to start delivering the first batch of aircraft,” the source said.

There was no immediate confirmation on the investment that has gone into the second plant, or when it is expected to be commissioned fully. “The first phase of the operations will start in a few months after Tuesday’s inauguration and we’ll subsequently commission the rest of the plant,” another source said, adding that existing manpower will be used to operate the plant.

Program May Generate 5,000 Primary Jobs

Soon after the CCS nod, HAL had said: “TEJAS would have the highest level indigenisation in comparison to any program of this scale with progressive indigenisation of critical technologies, thereby making India a technologically self-reliant nation. The program would look at developing technologies indigenously.”

The TEJAS program, the PSU said, has created a national aerospace ecosystem with participation of approximately 560 companies. “It is estimated that as the TEJAS MK-1A program kicks-off, it will generate primary jobs to a tune of 5,000 across the country. The program will foster local industry and drive skill development of young Indian workforce,” HAL said.

As per the PSUs estimates, the TEJAS program, till date has produced 50,000 primary and secondary jobs across the nation. “For the first time in India’s aerospace history, the program enabled partnership with Indian private players to manufacture aircraft fuselage and wings. Some of the major companies contributing in the program from the private sector are VEM technologies, L&T, DTL, Alpha Toccol, TAML, Data Patterns, Pendios, Compupower and many others,” HAL added.