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The Indian Cabinet Committee on Security (CCS) has cleared the purchase of 73 Light Combat Aircraft (LCA) Tejas Mk-1A fighter aircraft and ten LCA Tejas Mk-1 Trainer aircraft.

LCA Tejas Mk-1A variant is a fourth-generation advanced fighter aircraft.

It features critical operational capabilities such as active electronically scanned array (AESA) radar, beyond visual range (BVR) missile, electronic warfare (EW) suite and air-to-air refuelling (AAR) and more.

The Rs456.96bn ($6.23bn) procurement project for the Indian Air Force (IAF) has been awarded to Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL).

Indian Defence Minister Rajnath Singh tweeted: “The LCA Tejas is going to be the backbone of the IAF fighter fleet in (the) years to come.

“LCA-Tejas incorporates a large number of new technologies, many of which were never attempted in India.”

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The project also includes the design and development of infrastructure sanctions worth Rs12.02bn ($164.1m).

HAL will work with around 500 Indian companies, including micro, small and medium-sized enterprises (MSME) serving in the design and manufacturing sectors.

The programme falls under the ‘Buy (Indian-Indigenously Designed, Developed and Manufactured)’ category and is a significant boost to the Atmanirbhar Bharat initiative and localisation of defence production and industry.

The aircraft will feature 50% locally built content, and this will gradually increase to 60%.

According to the Indian Ministry of Defence, the infrastructure development sanctions will allow repairs and servicing to be carried out at base depot.

This will lower the turnaround time for mission-critical systems and enhance aircraft availability to conduct missions while enabling effective fleet sustainment.

In May 2020, No 18 Squadron the ‘Flying Bullets’ at Air Force Station Sulur became the first IAF squadron to induct Tejas Mk-1 final operational clearance (FOC) aircraft.