The Indian Air Force (IAF) is soon set to acquire 180 TEJAS MK-1A fighter aircraft. Notably, a contract for 83 aircraft has already been signed

In a significant move towards self-reliance and bolstering India's domestic defence manufacturing capabilities, the Indian Air Force (IAF) is actively engaged in 'Make in India' programs valued at over Rs 3.15 lakh crore. These programs encompass a wide range of weapon systems and platforms, including fighter aircraft, helicopters, surveillance planes, air defence systems, and more.

The IAF's commitment to indigenisation and self-sufficiency is evident through these projects. Notably, the force is striving to increase indigenous content in its acquisitions, reducing reliance on foreign suppliers. This shift aligns with Prime Minister Narendra Modi's vision of a robust 'Aatmanirbhar Bharat' (self-reliant India) in the defence sector.

Key Projects and Developments

TEJAS MK-1A Fighter Jets

The IAF is set to acquire 180 TEJAS MK-1A fighter aircraft, with a contract for 83 aircraft already signed. The remaining 97 aircraft are expected to receive Defence Ministry clearance soon. This acquisition is a significant milestone in developing a thriving ecosystem for fighter aircraft manufacturing within India.

Sukhoi Su-30MKI Upgrade

The IAF is embarking on a massive upgrade programme for its Sukhoi Su-30MKI fighter jet fleet, with a budget of Rs 65,000 crore. This project involves indigenous development of radars, avionics, and weapons, positioning the aircraft at the cusp of fifth-generation capabilities.

ISTAR Aircraft

The IAF is actively working on Intelligence, Surveillance, Target Acquisition, and Reconnaissance (ISTAR) aircraft. These platforms will provide comprehensive battlefield transparency and situational awareness, enhancing the force's operational capabilities.

Light Combat Helicopters

With plans to acquire 156 light combat helicopters at an estimated cost of Rs 45,000 crore, the IAF is set to boost its rotary wing capabilities significantly. These helicopters will strengthen the IAF's firepower.

Air Defence With Project Kusha

The Defence Ministry recently approved Project Kusha, valued at approximately Rs 21,700 crores. This project aims to equip the IAF with Long-Range Surface-to-Air Missiles (LR-SAM) comparable to the Russian S-400 air defence systems. The Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) is driving this initiative in collaboration with the private and public sectors.

Close-in Weapon Systems

The IAF's request for over Rs 7,500 crore for Close-in Weapon Systems to protect critical assets is pending clearance. This project is being undertaken in partnership with the private sector and holds strategic importance for safeguarding key installations.

'Pralay' Ballistic Missiles

The DRDO is actively developing 'Pralay' ballistic missiles to enhance the IAF's conventional capabilities. These missiles will serve multiple roles and warheads, further strengthening India's air defence arsenal.

C-295 Transport Aircraft

The IAF has inducted C-295 transport aircraft as part of a private sector joint venture worth over Rs 22,000 crores. This initiative marks a significant achievement in aircraft manufacturing within the country.

HTT-40 Basic Trainer Aircraft

The IAF is gearing up to acquire the HTT-40 basic trainer aircraft, produced by HAL, at a cost of Rs 6,100 crores. These trainers will play a pivotal role in pilot training and skill development.

These 'Make in India' initiatives signify the IAF's commitment to fostering a self-reliant and indigenised defence manufacturing sector. By reducing dependency on foreign suppliers and enhancing indigenous content, the force is taking significant strides towards strengthening India's national security and achieving economic growth. These projects not only contribute to the modernisation of the IAF but also align with India's broader vision of self-reliance and innovation in the defence sector.