Tejas MK-2 to fill capability void: IAF chief

| | New Delhi
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Tejas MK-2 to fill capability void: IAF chief

Friday, 02 September 2022 | Pioneer News Service | New Delhi

With the Government giving the go-ahead for developing the next generation of the Tejas light combat aircraft (LCA) MK-2, the new plane will fill the critical capability void, IAF chief VR Chaudhari said here on Thursday.

His remarks came a day after the Cabinet Committee on Security (CCS)on Wednesday approved the LCA-MK 2 project and sanctioned Rs 10,000 crores for its development.  It is likely to take its first flight after two to three years and its serial production likely commence from 2028.

Underlining the importance of this project, the IAF chief also said the timely production of the indigenous fighter jet will address the issue of depleting strength of the fighter plane squadron strength.  At present, the IAF has 30 squadrons (one squadron has 18-20 jets) while the sanctioned strength is 42.

Stressing the point that the new planes will fill the critical capability void, Chaudhari called upon all the stakeholders to work in close co-ordination for timely induction of the aircraft into the force.

He also said this decision will give a filip to the indigenous design and development of the next generation fighter aircraft and add muscle to the 'Atmanirbhar Bharat' initiative in aerospace manufacturing field.

The Mk-2 fighter jet will be the most advanced LCA variant to be designed and developed indigenously by the Aeronautical Development Agency (ADA), sources said.

It will be equipped with a more powerful engine (GE-414) , a superior radar, better avionics and electronics, and will be capable of carrying a higher weapons payload, they said. The new fighter jet is expected to cater to the future requirements of IAF, which has already inducted earlier variants of the LCA and has ordered 83 Mk-1A variants.

The latest decision comes in the backdrop of the government in 2021 ordering the production of 83 Tejas LCA MK-I worth over Rs 48,000 crores. The Hindustan Aeronautics Limited(HAL)is manufacturing these planes and the first batch is likely to be inducted into the IAF by 2024. Once the MK-I and MK-2 are fully operational, the IAF will have more than 210 Tejas jets in its inventory thereby enhancing its operational capabilities. Incidentally, India is all set to bag the first export order for Tejas LCA from Malaysia.  Once the formal contract comes through, Malaysia will procure 18 Tejas from India.  The HAL has recently opened an office in Kuala Lumpur for co-ordination with the Malaysian authorities in this regard. Several other countries including the US, Argentina, Australia, Egypt, Indonesia and the Philippines are also keen to buy aircraft.

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