India approves procurement of 97 Tejas jets, 156 Prachand choppers in major defence deal

It is learnt that mega procurement projects and the Su-30 upgrade programme are expected to cost the exchequer Rs 1.6 lakh crore.
A collage of Indigenously developed Tejas Mk-1A Light Combat Aircraft (L) and Prachand Light Combat Helicopters developed by HAL. (Photo | Ministry of Defence)
A collage of Indigenously developed Tejas Mk-1A Light Combat Aircraft (L) and Prachand Light Combat Helicopters developed by HAL. (Photo | Ministry of Defence)

NEW DELHI: India on Thursday accorded an initial approval to procure an additional batch of 97 Tejas light combat aircraft and 156 Prachand helicopters to boost the overall combat capability of the armed forces, official sources said.

The Defence Acquisition Council (DAC) headed by Defence Minister Rajnath Singh also cleared a proposal of the Indian Air Force to upgrade its Su-30 fighter fleet, the sources said.

It is learnt that mega procurement projects and the Su-30 upgrade programme are expected to cost the exchequer Rs 1.6 lakh crore. The defence ministry is expected to provide the details of the projects cleared by the DAC soon.

"The Defence Ministry has cleared the proposal for the acquisition of 97 LCA mark 1A fighter jets for the Indian Air Force at a cost of around Rs 65,000 crores. Proposal for buying 156 LCH Prachand choppers have also been approved by the Defence Acquisition Council along with the upgrade plan of 84 Su-30MKI fighters has also been cleared: these proposals are worth Rs 1.6 lakh crore and are indigenous projects," according to officials from the Defence Ministry.

Developed by Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL), Tejas is a multirole platform designed to undertake the Air Defence, Maritime Reconnaissance and strike roles. Tejas Mk-1A, a Light Combat Aircraft, will have updated avionics, as well as an active electronically steered radar, an updated electronic warfare suite and a beyond-visual Range missile capability. The new variant will be capable of firing a number of weapons from increased stand-off ranges.

Prachand, a Light Combat Helicopter (LCH), is also designed and manufactured by HAL and is a multi-role light attack helicopter with the ability to land and take off from an altitude of 5,000 metres (16,400 feet), making it ideal to operate in the high-altitude areas of the Indian border.

It also has a countermeasure dispensing system that shields it from hostile radars and infrared seekers of enemy missiles, and it can fire a variety of air-to-ground and air-to-air missiles. In addition to having the finest stealth characteristics, armoured shield systems, and dark mode assault capabilities, Prachand also has an advantage over other technologies like radar and infrared signature thanks to its crash-resistant landing gear.

(With additional inputs from PTI and ANI)

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