According to an official statement from the Indian Embassy, following a crucial January 13, 2021 meeting, New Delhi has decided to purchase 83 Tejas Mk1 light fighters for around $6.2 billion, with the Union Cabinet deciding to design and build new infrastructure for the Indian Air Force.
The Tejas Mk1 is a fighter jet developed by India. New Delhi is working on the design and development of the Tejas Mk2, which expects to be at least several times a better version of the predecessor.
The Mk1 is equipped with a modern AESA radar, allowing it to receive and distribute data at several points on the radar grid; it is also equipped with an electronic warfare system and can be fitted with a wide variety of missiles; it can also be refuelled in the air.
In recent years, India has begun developing its military industry, with Indian President Narendra Modi focusing on localizing costly purchases through his much vaunted “Made in India” program; Modi aims to place local production of the military at the forefront of weapons technology.
While India has canceled a couple of international deals as a result of this program, it has placed order for rafale fighter jets from France in an effort to counter credible and growing threats from an aggressive China which has launched belligerent land claims with most of its neighbors. China has even claimed the Russian city of Vladivostok as its own, a territory it does not even share a border with.
The General Electric F414 engine will power India’s Tejas Mk2 providing it a dry thrust of 13,000, almost twice as much as the Mk1. On its part, General Electric has already allowed India to test engine capabilities way back in 2017, with New Delhi saying it is happy with the engine.
If the deal is finalized, General Electric will have to supply nearly 100 engines to the Indian forces, a deal worth about half a billion dollars. This engine will make the Mk2 more viable and increase load capacity by 25% compared to the Tejas Mk1. General Electric could potentially become a major player in the development of the local industry. According to India’s prescribed norms, at least 60% of the engines must have local components, to which General Electric has no problem.