IAF to speed up induction of indigenous 'Tejas' LCAs

The Indian Air Force will induct three to four indigenously developed Light Combat Aircraft 'Tejas' this year, and a total of eight squadrons in eight years, defence minister Manohar Parrikar said today.

He told the Lok Sabha that a Letter of Intent for procuring 120 Tejas planes has been issued and the first aircraft was inducted by the IAF in 2015, and three to four would be inducted this year.

"We are also in the process of approving the second line of manufacturing to HAL (Hindustan Aeronautics Ltd) so that they can produce 16 aircraft per year. In the next eight years, you will have about eight squadrons of LCA," he said during Question Hour.

The Aeronautical Development Agency (ADA) is the nodal organisation for the development of 'Tejas'.

Parrikar said India has been accounting for 15 per cent of global arms imports, which has now come down to 14 per cent.

India's arms import bill has also come down from around Rs35,000 crore to Rs24,900 crore now, he said.

The defence minister said Indian defence industries, ordnance factories and shipyards have been functioning at full capacity and the orders received by them have increased substantially over the years.

They have orders to the tune of Rs1,60,000 crore and they would not be able to complete all orders even in the next 10 years, he said, adding that these orders were indigenous, mostly from the government, and just two per cent orders from abroad.

Replying to another question, Parrikar refuted a suggestion that India's budget allocation for the defence sector was low in comparison to countries like the US, China and Pakistan, adding the pensions of defence personnel were not part of the defence budget.

He said modernisation of the armed forces was a continuous process based on threat perception, operational challenges and technological changes to keep the armed forces in a state of readiness to meet the entire spectrum of security challenges.

"Government attaches the highest priority to ensuring that the armed forces are sufficiently equipped to meet any operational requirement. This is achieved through induction of new equipment and technological upgradation of capabilities," he said.