This fighter is built to carry out exceedingly ambitious goals. What accounts for the high price?
The Indian Air Force authorised a contract to purchase 83 Tejas Mk1A light single-engine fighter aircraft in January 2021, marking the second highest order for this type of aircraft [after the original order of 40 components].
India began developing Tejas in the early 1980s, following more than 40 years of research and development and a long wait.
In December 2019, the Indian Air Force certified this aircraft model. It has a similar mass to the Swedish Gripen and Pakistan’s JF-17, but is substantially lighter than more sophisticated single-engine designs like the American F-16 Fighting Falcon and the Chinese J-10 Firebird.
Many of Tejas’ essential technologies are obtained from foreign sources, including the US F404 engine, Israeli sensors, electronics, and missiles, despite the fact that it is billed as an indigenous fighter programme. Russian air-to-air communication.
Many countries and regions, from Sweden to Taiwan, had previously explored the development of light and low-cost domestic fighter aircraft for a variety of reasons.
It not only allows them to modify and adapt the aircraft model to the needs of the domestic armed forces, but it also allows them to pursue their own design ideas and build domestic high-level technology. Furthermore, domestically produced aircraft models are frequently less expensive than imported models on the market.
Given India’s massive intentions to expand its fighter jet force [which include the addition of hundreds of new squadrons in the near future], a domestic plane A low-cost, lightweight aircraft that will offer New Delhi with a cost-effective means of accomplishing this while staying within India’s defence budget constraints.
The only issue is that the Tejas model makes it nearly hard to meet the criteria of a low-cost fighter due to its substantial reliance on extremely expensive foreign technologies. The Indian Ministry of Defense paid $62.7 million per aircraft for the initial procurement.
According to Business Standard, there were concerns that each Tejas would cost more than $70 million to produce by 2021, but senior Indian government sources indicated the cost would be more than $70 million at the time. Each Tejas Mark 1A variant will cost no more than 43 million dollars to produce [under the agreement to sell 83 aircraft to the Indian Air Force].
Tejas cannot compete with Pakistan’s JF-17, Ching Kuo, and Brave models due to India’s procurement of the F404 engine, Israeli sensors and electronics at export costs, and pricey parts. Taiwan’s Eagle, China’s J-10 and J-15, or the F-16 of the United States.
The American model F-35A can be used as an illustration of the price disparity between locally built and exported fighter jets, according to MW magazine. The F-35A was acquired by the US Air Force for around $80 million each, but is now being sold for almost $200 million on the export market.
Similarly, while the Russian Su-57 is currently the most expensive fighter jet outside of the West to be offered in the export market [at around $110 million each], it is offered to the Russian Air Force at a unit price of 35 million USD (according to 2019 information from MW magazine) and nearly 40 million USD (according to 2019 information from MW magazine) (according to 2021 information, National Interest magazine).
When comparing the costs at which Russia and the US buy Su-57 and F-35A to service the country’s armed forces, Tejas offers India a lower cost benefit. Not to mention that the Russian and American fighter planes are both heavier and more advanced than the Indian fighter variant.