A decision on many big ticket projects like procuring the much-awaited fighter jet planes and self-propelled guns is likely to be taken this year, Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar said on Tuesday. He said work on a second manufacturing line for indigenously developed Light Combat Aircraft (LCA) Tejas will also commence in the next three months to boost production.
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“Many of the private sector projects like SP (self-propelled) gun, C-295 (Airbus transporter aircraft) and even single and twin-engine fighter jets are in an advanced stage of decision making. We expect to get these in line during the current calender year,” Parrikar said at a news conference in Bengaluru after inaugurating the biennial edition of International Aerospace and Defence Exhibition — Aero India 2017.
To replenish its fleet, the Indian Air Force is looking for new fighter jets. With another indigenous aircraft carrier to be inducted in service soon, the navy is also looking to procure over 50 fighter jets.
In his last interaction with the media as the air chief on December 29 last year, Arup Raha had said that the air force would need over 200-250 medium-weight category planes. The air force has already placed an order to procure 36 Rafale jets.
Criticising his predecessor A K Anthony and the UPA government, Parrikar said the Hindustan Aeronautics Ltd (HAL) has been making efforts to augment production in different sectors, but earlier there was “no encouragement, there was no timeline and no discussion on Make in India”.