Plane maker Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL) said it plans to deliver three more light combat aircraft to the Indian Air Force (IAF) by the end of March, taking the count of planes in the IAF’s first Tejas squadron from six to nine.
“With increased level of outsourcing and capacity augmentation within HAL, we will be able to speed up the deliveries to cater to the present and future requirements,” said an HAL official, who did not wish to be identified.
HT reported on Friday that LCA production woes had led to disenchantment and frustration in the IAF that has ordered 123 such planes and plans to order 201 more upgraded variants to arrest a sharp decline in its combat capabilities. Schedules get disturbed due to modifications made (in the platform) from time to time, the person quoted above said.
“The IAF is nearing 1,000 sorties after formation of 45 Squadron in July 2016. It is significant in the LCA programme,” the official added.
“HAL is working on ramping up the production capacity from eight to 16 aircraft per annum from 2019 as agreed with the IAF.” He said major sub-assemblies, including front fuselage, centre fuselage, rear fuselage and wings, had been outsourced to private industry.
The government is aware about IAF’s concerns about the Tejas production rate. On March 3, defence minister Nirmala Sitharaman said HAL had been asked to scale up the Tejas production rate and deliver the upgraded Mk-II version at the earliest.