SOURCE: Anand SG / FOR MY TAKE / IDRW.ORG
Just a few weeks after Government of India cleared HAL proposed plans to set up Second production line for LCA-Tejas which can produce 8 LCA-Tejas per year, HAL is keen on adding another assembly line but this time it is open for a Private Defence Company to take the lead this time.
Hindustan Aeronautics Ltd (HAL) Chief T. Suvarna Raju on sidelines on Aero India 2017 spoke to many Senior management officials of Private Defence Company to gauge their interest levels in setting up a third assembly line for LCA-Tejas with the ability to produce 8 aircraft per year.
HAL already has bagged orders for 40 Tejas MK and 83 Tejas MK-1A from Indian Air force is interested in upscaling LCA-Tejas production to 24 aircraft per year. At present Single production line setup by HAL is able to produce 8 LCA-Tejas per annum and once Second production line is ready by 2019, HAL will be ready to produce 16 aircraft per year.
HAL is more interested in future to be seen has a Design and Development company and lead integrator and clearly, wants to move away from production reasonability. HAL is already outsourced major production works for LCA-Tejas to private players and also plans similar steps for its Helicopter division.
It is clear that any Private Defence Company which agrees and steps in will always have first movers advantage since Indian Air Force is also planning to induct other indigenous Combat jets like AMCA and Ghatak UCAV in near future and same production line could be utilised once LCA-Tejas production line comes to an end.
While many Private Defence Companies in India are interested in setting up local production plant in India to assemble Single-engined or twin engined fighter jets to meet IAF’s requirements of foreign origin but the same level of enthusiasm is not been shown towards LCA-Tejas production line due to uncertainty with MK-2 program and IAF’s inability to communicate it requirements and fleet projection clearly .
If Indian Air Force and Government of India like Armies Futuristic Infantry Combat Vehicle (FICV) programme can assure guaranteed orders for private players for LCA-Tejas who shows interest in setting up a third assembly line then it will be able to attract some bidders for it, but for that to happen government will need to take some proactive steps in that direction.