Indian state-owned military aircraft maker Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL) has floated global bids to procure around 100 state-of-the-art active electronically scanned array (AESA) radar systems for an improved variant of the HAL Mark-I Tejas Light Combat Aircraft (LCA), dubbed Tejas Mark-IA, according to local media reports.
“The tender in the form of Expression of Interest (EoI) was floated on Wednesday to five of the global firms,” a HAL representative told The Economic Times on December 15. According to the representative a U.S. defense contractor and an Israeli firm are the top contenders for the contract.
Bids have reportedly been issued to U.S. defense contractors Raytheon and Northrop Grumman, the French company Thales, the Israeli defense company Elta, Swedish aircraft maker SAAB, and Russia’s Rosoboronoexport.
The estimated contract value is $1.85 billion.
“We cannot wait for Indian companies to develop and build these proven systems, and they will be bought off-the-shelf from overseas,” an Indian Ministry of Defense (MoD) official told Defense News. The deadline for the submission of bids will be February 15. A final decision is likely to be announced by April 2017.
“The imported radar will require customization to suit the LCA’s requirements and this will be done jointly by the ARDC HAL’s Aviation Research and Design Center] and the vendor,” the HAL representative notes. “It is not yet clear whether some of the radars will be manufactured in India or be a totally off-the-shelf purchase.”
As I explained previously, “the Tejas supersonic, single-seat, single-engine multirole light fighter aircraft has been under development since 1983 by the Aeronautical Development Agency in cooperation with HAL in order to replace the IAF’s aging fleet of MiG-21 and MiG-23 aircraft with a domestically designed and produced light fighter jet.”
The Indian Air Force intends to induct a total of 123 Tejas Mark-IA aircraft. In November 2016, the Indian MoD cleared the purchase of a first batch of 83 Mark-IA LCA. The IAF is also currently slated to receive 40 Tejas Mark-I aircraft by early 2018. As I noted elsewhere (See: “India’s Newest Fighter Jet Completes Maiden Flight”):
The Mark-I variant (…) suffered from a number of technical shortfalls, according to a May 2015 report by the Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG) of India — the Indian government’s principal oversight body —including inadequate electronic warfare capabilities, problems with the onboard radar system, and reduced internal-fuel capacity.
The Mark-IA variant of the LCA will address the aircraft’s technical shortcoming outlined in the report. According to Defense News, India will also purchase 100 electronic-warfare jammer pods for the LCA at a cost of $200 million.