DAC To Review Ambitious Aircraft Carrier Proposals With LCA-MK1A Jets

The Defense Acquisition Council (DAC), which is led by the Defense Minister, is going to meet at the end of this month to talk about two huge proposals from the Navy and the Air Force. Together, they are likely to cost over ₹1 lakh crore. Defense sources say that the DAC is about to approve the Navy’s request for a repeat order of a Vikrant-type aircraft carrier, which will cost about ₹40,000 crore, and for the Indian Air Force (IAF), 97 more Light Combat Aircraft (LCA)-MK1A fighters, which will cost about ₹67,000 crore.

The Defense Procurement Board (DPB), which is meeting on Friday, is going to talk about another plan to improve 84 SU-30MKI fighter jets in service with the IAF. This will cost just over ₹6,000 crore.

The Defense Procurement Board (DPB) has already approved both the plans for a second Indigenous Aircraft Carrier (IAC)-II and 97 LCA-MK1A. The DAC is likely to discuss them at its next meeting, according to two people who know about the situation and spoke to The Hindu. The DPB is going to meet on Friday to talk about the Sukhoi upgrade plan, and the DAC is likely to meet on October 29 or 30, according to one source.

One very important person said that the DPB approved the plan for IAC-II in the middle of September. Some changes will be made to the original plan of the country’s first Indigenous Aircraft Carrier (IAC), INS Vikrant, which was commissioned in September 2022 and will also be built by Cochin Shipyard Limited (CSL). The IAC-II will weigh 45,000 tonnes.

Additional jets

IAF Chief Air Chief Marshal (ACM) Vivek Ram Chaudhari said last week that they have put in a case for 97 more LCA-MK1A jets on top of the 83 jets they already have on order with Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL). The total cost of these orders would be around 1.15 lakh crore. By the end, 180 LCA-MK1A planes and 220 MK1 jets would have been made.

The Defense Ministry agreed to pay HAL ₹48,000 crores in 2021 to provide 83 LCA-Mk1A fighters, which are better than the LCA-MK1 that is currently in use. According to the deal, the IAF will get three LCA-MK1As in February 2024, and then 16 each year for the next five years. Officials said that deliveries of the bigger LCA-MK2 jets would start in 2032. By that time, all deliveries of the LCA-MK1A jets should be complete, and HAL will finally be able to make 24 jets per year.

Sukhoi upgrade

Sources say that the long-awaited Su-30MKI upgrade will start with 84 jets and will be mostly done by people in Russia. It was said by ACM Chaudhari that 51 systems on the 84 jets will be upgraded, with 78% of the systems being made in India.

A source said that Russia, as the original equipment maker, would be working on improving the fly-by-wire system and integrating systems, among other things. Most of the improvements, such as those to the radar and avionics, will be made in Russia. As part of this, reports say that the Uttam Advanced Electronically Scanned Array (AESA) radar that is being made by the Defence Research and Development Organization (DRDO) will be put on the jets.

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