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DAC set to approve 3 Mega Defence Acquisitions: 97 LCA Mk1A | IAC-II Vikrant class | 156 LCH Prachand

Source : Indian Defence Analysis

The very first step in any defence procurement process in India is AoN granted by the Ministry of Defence. As per the Times of India report, the decision on 3 major defence acquisitions which include 97 LCA Mk1A, 156 LCH Prachand, and 2nd Aircraft Carrier IAC-II Vikrant class is likely to be taken up on 30th November 2023.

DAC set to approve 3 Mega Defence Acquisitions: 97 LCA Mk1A | IAC-II Vikrant class | 156 LCH Prachand

Once the AoN is accorded, the tendering and commercial negotiations will take place before the 3 deals are submitted before CCS for the final approval. These are long term projects which will take several years to execute and a strategic step towards building credible capability at the backdrop of increase threat and military built up by China. The best part of all these 3 big acquisitions is that these are from indigenous sources.

DAC set to approve 3 Mega Defence Acquisitions: 97 LCA Mk1A | IAC-II Vikrant class | 156 LCH Prachand

97 LCA Tejas

The 97 LCA Tejas Mark1A is going to cost around Rs 55,000 crore. As the Indian Air Force is progressing with additional order for 97 LCA Tejas Mark1A fighter jet, HAL is preparing to ramp up the delivery of 83 LCA Tejas aiming to complete the delivery a year before the contracted schedule.

The first LCA Mk-1A will be delivered to IAF in February 2024, and the last of the 83 jets by 2028 – a year ahead of schedule. At present HAL has production capacity of 16 fighter jets per year from Bengaluru. Addition of new Nasik division which was inaugurated in April 2023, will boost the production capacity to 24 fighter jets per year. HAL has commenced the installation of jigs, fixtures and other equipment at Nasik division and it expects the first assembly to be ready by December 2024. HAL aims to deliver three aircraft from Nashik in 2024-25 and eight every year thereafter.

HAL has recently handed over the first LCA Tejas Trainer aircraft to Indian Air Force. The 32 out of 40 LCA Mark1 fighter jet has already been delivered and inducted by IAF. The remaining 7 trainer aircraft are scheduled to be delivered to IAF by March 2024.

In summary, HAL & IAF is geared up to induct more LCA Tejas Mark1A in big number to catch up with its declining fighter jet squadron strength. With 40 LCA Mark1, 83 LCA Mark1A & additional order 97 LCA Mark1A, IAF is looking to induct massive fleet of 220 LCA Tejas fighter aircrafts.

156 Prachand

The 156 LCH Prachand is going to cost around Rs 45,000 crore. The proposal for acquisition of 156 LCH Prachand is already being led by Indian Air Force which includes 90 for army and 66 for Air Force. HAL has planned to deliver these helicopters in 5-6 years at the rate of 24 helicopters per year. 15 LSP Prachand has already been delivered by HAL which includes 10 for IAF and 5 for Army. The Indian Army has raised its LCH squadron, designated as 351 Army Aviation (AA) at Missamari station Situated in Assam and just 150 kilometres away from Line of Actual Control (LAC). The Indian Air Force has raised its LCH squadron at Jodhpur.

The helicopter boasts excellent performance at high altitude. It will be used for close air support (CAS), destruction of enemy air defense (DEAD) missions, executing high-altitude bunker-busting operations, and intercepting slow-moving remotely piloted aircraft (RPAs).

Aircraft Carrier

The new aircraft carrier proposed for acquisition will cost around Rs 40,000 crore and will be a 44,000 tonne class aircraft carrier similar to IAC Vikrant with some enhancements. Initially, the Indian Navy wanted a 65,000 tonne aircraft carrier with Nuclear Propulsion but have now opted for Vikrant class aircraft, as the later will take longer time to design, develop & construct. Navy has already begun the study of the aircraft carrier of higher tonnage and ship building facilities are also being upgraded for the same.

Indian Navy is aiming induction of new aircraft carrier in a decade timeline which can replace INS Vikramaditya. Once approved CSL can deliver the aircraft carrier within 8 years. India is also finalizing the Rs 50,000 crore acquisition of 26 Rafale fighter jets for operating from its aircraft carrier.

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