Former IAF Vice-Chief Air Marshall (retd) PK Barbora said, “One of the options to meet the shortfall is through a tie-up with another country to produce next lot of light-combat aircraft, Tejas, and not wait for Hindustan Aeronautics Limited or the Defence Research and Development Organisation to manufacture these.”
There is one silver lining: no comments like Tejas is x-legged cheetah/cheetal, etc., instead there is a comment on Tejas's delivery rate. That's a good thing. I take this to mean the IAF wants the Tejas to play a role in meeting their shortfall, and their major complaint is the production rate now. No comments on the foreign partner part.
To address the above, I think HAL a) needs more orders, but at the same time, needs b) a fire in the seat to get things going.
To address a), place a firm order of 100 Tejas Mk-1/1.5 with HAL, with options for more, and b) announce a private production vendor competition to get the Tatas, Mahindras, Taneja, etc. involved in making another 100 plus options. This plan b) can start ramping up by the time Mk-2 is ready. The options clause will be a carrot for further orders that could go to either HAL or the pvt vendor depending on who meets the timelines and satisfactory reports from IAF. Another carrot is the upgrade orders for Mk1 planes to 1.5 standard a few years later (I understand Mk-1 cannot be upgraded to Mk2). Yet another is the NLCA, that may be around 50(?) fighters.
The above will ensure we have 2 full-fledged homegrown manufacturers by the 2022-25 timeframe, ready for making the AMCA when it arrives.
At the same time, we need to get GE to tie up with a local vendor and make the engines here. We are looking at a minimum order book of 250, maybe 300 LCAs in one version or another. GE won't transfer the engine tech, but let's at least get the manufacturing process going without wasting further time on a mythical ToT.
Time to really start #MakeInIndia.