The Indian Air Force (IAF) could seal the deal for 83 Light Combat Aircraft (LCA) Tejas by the end of the current fiscal year.
“The contract for 83 LCA Mark-1A will be signed this financial year,” a senior IAF official was quoted as saying by The Hindu on Sunday.
According to the official, the IAF is currently taking the delivery of final four Tejas jets in the Initial Operational Configuration (IOC). It is expecting to receive 5-6 LCAs in the Final Operational Configuration (FOC), also, by March 2020.
“The production of the FOC variant had started and there were some issues, including in the software, that needed to be stabilised. At least four FOC aircraft will be delivered by March next year,” a source from manufacturer Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL) said.
The HAL is setting up another assembly line in collaboration with the private industry to increase the production of the LCA from the current eight to 16.
According to earlier reports, the IAF and Indian MoD were negotiating with the company to bring down the cost of each unit from INR 450 crore ($62.5 million) to be somewhere around INR 275 crore ($38.2 million). The contract for 83 LCAs taking price of each fighter to be INR 275 crore will be about INR 22,825 crore ($3.17 billion).
Development of the LCA Mark-2 has also been accelerated. “The LCA Mark-2 is very important. It is a go between the LCA Mark-1A and the Advanced Medium Combat Aircraft (AMCA), which is our indigenous Fifth Generation Fighter Aircraft (FGFA),” the IAF source said.
The AMCA, being designed and developed by the Aeronautical Development Agency (ADA) with the IAF’s support, will initially be powered by two GE-414 engines. It is expected to make the first flight in 2032.