India’s state-run Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL) is producing around eight Tejas, a single engine multi-role aircraft, annually and the defence ministry wants it to increase the number to 18 planes per year.
"We are very confident that Tejas Mark II will be a big leap forward to fulfil the single engine fighter requirement of the forces," Defense Minister Nirmala Sitharaman said Monday, adding the government was also considering export potential of the aircraft.
The HAL is investing Rs 1,300 crore (USD 199 million) to augment the existing infrastructure so that production of Tejas can be increased to 24 aircraft per year by 2021.
HAL has recorded its highest ever turnover of over Rs. 18,000 crores (USD 2.7 billion) (provisional and unaudited) for the fiscal year 2017-18.
HAL had reported last year’s turnover as Rs. 17,605 crores (USD 2.82 billion). During the FY 2017-18, the Company has produced 40 new aircraft/helicopters and 105 new engines. The Company has also carried out overhaul of 220 aircraft/helicopters and 550 engines, HAL said in a statement Monday.
The Company has received order of 41 Advanced Light Helicopters and 8 Chetak helicopters from Indian Armed Forces in the FY 2017-18. In the other major achievements, the Company received Initial Operational Clearance (IOC) certificate for its Light Combat Helicopter (LCH), Certificate of Airworthiness for its civil variant Dornier Do-228 from DGCA, acceptance of Mirage 2000 upgrade by Air HQ after its Final Operational Clearance, first successful run of Hindustan Turbo Shaft Engine -1200 and successful test firing of BrahMos missile from Su-30 MKI etc.
The Indian Air Force (IAF) had ordered 40 Tejas Mark-1 version. A request for proposal (RFP) was issued to HAL by the IAF two months back for the procurement of 83 Tejas of the Mark-1A version at a cost of around $7.7 billion.
Sitharaman said the government was examining how to increase the production of the LCA, adding a number of countries have shown interest in procuring the aircraft.
The defence minister's remarks came amid reports of a view in the defence establishment that Tejas was not enough to maintain IAF's combat readiness and it needed to quickly procure a fleet of foreign single engine fighters to deal with any possible security challenges facing the country in the wake of the dwindling size of its fighter fleet.