Just days after India’s Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL) received the go-ahead to begin production of the LCA Mk 2 fighter jet, new reports indicate that several countries have expressed interest in the Indian light fighter jet.
About 16 countries have approached India seeking details on the new generation Tejas Mk2 fighter jet, News 18 reported citing unnamed government officials. A model of the aircraft was displayed at Defense Expo 2022.
The report added that the government is also working to identify other private agencies to increase the production rate of fighter jets amid increased demand. Last month, the Cabinet Committee on Security (CCS), chaired by the Prime Minister and the Defense Secretary, gave the nod to the LCA Mk2 fighter jet.
“There is huge pressure from the central government to increase the production rate of the aircraft and India is already getting inquiries for the aircraft from 16 countries,” LCA Mk2 project director at the Aerospace Development Agency (ADA) Dr V Madhusudana Rao told News18 on the sidelines of DefExpo -2022. “
First look at #LCA Tejas Mk2!#DefExpo2022 @alpha_defense pic.twitter.com/CrtIuKnIS1
— Reach Defense (@DefenceReach) October 17, 2022
The official said the government was pushing for a reduction in the cost of the aircraft and speedy production to increase the fighter’s export potential. India has been looking to export its indigenously developed LCA Tejas, however, has so far not been successful in its attempt despite advanced stage talks with countries like Malaysia.
The ADA chief also recently told News 18 that “HAL can meet the requirements of the Indian armed forces. HAL may be the lead integrator, responsible for assembling all major parts and systems and flight testing and delivery.
But beyond that, a private partnership will be needed.” A private partnership could provide the much-needed support to aircraft manufacturing undertaken by HAL.
According to government estimates, the craft will be ready for launch by the end of December 2023, and the first fighter prototype will take to the skies a year later in 2024. Once the first flight is successful, there will be three more prototypes. be subsequently produced.
Further, an initial set of key weapons will, by design, be integrated into the aircraft prior to the completion of full flight testing, including a wingtip missile and two to four Beyond Visual Range (BVR) missiles.
The ADA chief also said: “The production of long lead components for the aircraft has started. By December 2027, we will complete the design and development of the LCA Mark 2 with full flight testing of all four prototypes and entry into production of the LCA Mark 2 for the IAF.
Air Chief Vivek Ram Chaudhary said on July 18 that the Indian Air Force has already committed to buy six squadrons of Mark 2 Light Combat Aircraft (LCA M2). The phasing out of several IAF fleets after their operational cycle ends by 2035 was detailed by the IAF chief earlier this month.
The Mk2 variant will replace the aging MiG-29s, Mirage-2000s and Jaguars in the Indian Air Force fleet over the next ten years.
LCA Tejas Mk2 – Coming Soon!
India’s indigenous aircraft Tejas Mark 2A built at Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL) is a multi-role fighter aircraft that is yet to roll out of the HAL hangar.
The IAF had approved a comprehensive design review (CDR) of the aircraft last year. The Tejas Mk2 variant is a medium-weight aircraft with an overall length of 14.6 meters, a shorter wingspan and a height of 8.5 meters and 4.86 meters.
The GE-F414 INS6 engine that will power the Tejas Mk-2 will have a thrust rating of 98 kN. Although it was originally intended to be a light fighter, as shown in the mock-up image, its powerful engine changed its design to look more like a medium-weight fighter.
The Tejas Mk2 has a long ferry range of 3,500 kilometers and is projected to cruise at Mach 1.8. The powerful engine allowed the Mark 2 to be launched with a maximum total weight of 16.5 tons, which included the mass of the fighter of 10 tons and 6.5 fingers of external cargo.
The Mk2 variant of Tejas will be armed with weapons such as Scalp, Crystal Labyrinth and Spice-2000. For air-to-air combat, it will be armed with indigenous Astra Mark 1 and Mark 2 missiles.
In addition, the Rudram anti-radiation missiles, which have been tested by the DRDO Research and Development Laboratory (DRDL) in Hyderabad, will also be included.
The Tejas Mk-2 will be guided by the ‘Made in India’ Uttam AESA radar. According to reports, this indigenous radar is advanced enough to provide a competitive advantage over the Israeli-made radars previously installed on earlier Tejas variants. The Uttam radar is also said to be capable of detecting and blocking enemy electronic warfare (EV) attempts.
The Mk2 will be equipped with canards capable of lifting 6,500 kilograms of cargo. To carry this payload, the Tejas Mark 2 will have 11 hardpoints, including one ASRAAM air-to-air missile hardpoint on each wingtip.
The Mk2 variant of the Tejas is designed with an eye on future wars where Beyond Visual Range (BVR) missiles will play a significant role. The new variant is capable of carrying around 8-10 BVR missiles.
Further, the Mk2 variant of the aircraft will have more than 80% domestic content, potentially limiting the export restriction imposed by foreign components on the aircraft.
A defense expert who requested anonymity said the Tejas appeared to be heading in the direction of the Rafale. Everyone appreciated and admired the rifles, but in the early days there were hardly any buyers.
Once they proved their mettle backed by political negotiations, the Rafale became one of the world’s best-selling aircraft, shedding its ‘cursed aircraft’ label. The Tejas might be slow going, but it has what it takes to become an ideal light fighter for countries like Malaysia, Argentina, etc.