The Indian Government has officially sealed the Rs480bn ($6.57bn) deal to procure 83 Tejas light combat aircraft (LCA) from state-owned aerospace major Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL).

It was handed over by Indian Ministry of Defence director general (Acquisition) V L Kantha Rao to HAL chairman and managing director R Madhavan.

Indian Defence Minister Rajnath Singh was quoted by the Press Trust of India (PTI) as saying: “I am very happy that HAL has got the orders for development of 83 new indigenous LCA (light combat aircraft) Tejas MK1A from Indian Air Force valued at more than Rs48,000 crore.

“It is probably the biggest Make in India Defence contract till date.”

On 3 February, a display of Tejas platform was made in the country’s premier defence and aerospace show ‘Aero India 2021’.

The Tejas single-seat, single-engine, lightweight, high-agility supersonic fighter aircraft is manufactured by HAL. It entered service with the Indian Air Force (IAF) in July 2016.

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The aircraft’s design and development programme was led by the Aeronautical Development Agency (ADA), with HAL as the prime industrial contractor.

Delivery of the Tejas light combat aircraft (LCA) to the IAF will begin from March 2024.

According to a statement released by India’s Ministry of Defence, nearly 500 Indian companies, including micro, small and medium enterprises (MSMEs), in the design and manufacturing sectors will be working with HAL for the latest procurement.

The contract gives a further push to Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s ‘Atmanirbhar Bharat’ initiative.