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The Indian Air Force (IAF) is taking decisive steps to halt the gradual decline in its fighter jet squadron numbers. In a strategic move to bolster its aerial prowess, the IAF is in the process of introducing an additional 90-100 Tejas Mk1A fighter jets, building on the initial order of 73 placed in 2021.

Earlier this year, a significant milestone was achieved as Defence Secretary Giridhar Aramane inaugurated the third production line of the Light Combat Aircraft (LCA) at the Hindustan Aeronautics Ltd. (HAL) facility in Nashik, Maharashtra. This new production line is poised to play a pivotal role in the induction of the Tejas Mk1A fighter jets into the IAF’s fleet.

With a dedicated annual production capacity of 8 jets, the Nashik Division, in conjunction with the two existing LCA production lines in Bangalore, is set to collectively manufacture 24 jets each year. This enhanced production capacity will be realized as additional orders for the Tejas Mk1A are placed.

The Nashik Division is undergoing preparations for the manufacturing and testing of the locally produced LCA-Tejas Mk1A fighter jets. The first locally assembled jet is expected to roll out from this facility within the next three years, marking a significant leap forward in India’s indigenous fighter jet manufacturing capabilities.

HAL, with an ambitious vision, aims to secure orders for 100 Tejas Mk1A fighter jets by 2024. If successful, the organization plans to expand its production capabilities further. An additional production capacity is being contemplated, which would contribute to a combined annual production capacity of 30 LCA-Tejas jets across all three production facilities, commencing in 2026.

The Nashik Division, renowned for its previous production of 12 Sukhoi Su-30MKI fighter jets per year as part of an IAF contract, is currently engaged in overhauling 20 Su-30MKI jets annually.

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