First version of LCA TEJAS MK-2 likely to be ready for serial production by 2027

The first version of the (Light Combat Aircraft) LCA TEJAS MK-2, which is being developed for the Indian Air Force, is expected to be ready for serial production by 2027.

The LCA TEJAS MK-2 will be powered by the GE-F414 engine, which will be produced in India under a technology transfer deal.

Notably, the TEJAS MK-2 is a 17.5-ton single-engine aircraft developed by Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL) and the Indian Air Force and Indian Navy.

The program aims to complete development by 2027, but recent developments indicate a pushback in the first aircraft rollout.

The program is now aiming for a first rollout in late 2026 or early 2027.

The LCA TEJAS MK-1A, which was cleared for procurement by the Centre in 2021, will add the much-needed numbers to the fighter jet strength of the Air Force and is much more capable than the earlier version, as it is equipped with new age radars, electronic warfare systems and mid-air refuelling features.

Officials said that the project is on track to meet the deadlines and the first of the 83 TEJAS MK-1A jets on order is likely to be ready by next month.

By August this year, at least four of the jets are likely to be delivered.

Production could taper down next year as there have been some delays in deliveries of engines for the jets but efforts are being made to minimise the gap.

The order for 83 TEJAS MK-1A is expected to be completed by 2028-29.

According to officials familiar with the development said that the broad plan is to complete all deliveries of the MK-1A at the shortest possible time to ensure that production capacity is available for the next version – the LCA TEJAS MK-2.

This version will be powered by more capable engines – the GE 414 – which will also be produced in India under a technology transfer deal, the report further added.

TEJAS MK-2 Target Plan-Enhanced Range and Endurance

LCA TEJAS MK-2 is a bigger and more capable fighter than the present LCA MK-1A one.

Noteworthy, the CCS in September 2023 has sanctioned the project at a total development cost of Rs 9,000 crore including the Rs 2,500 crore that has already been spent.

The roll out of TEJAS MK-2 is planned by 2024 and the target is to complete flight testing by 2027.

As of now, the Indian Air Force (IAF) has given commitment to procure six squadrons of TEJAS MK-2.

Further, the proposal on the indigenous fifth generation fighter, the Advanced Medium Combat Aircraft (AMCA), is currently with the CCS and the approval is expected very soon.

Worth mentioning that the TEJAS MK-2 will be a heavier and much more capable aircraft than the current TEJAS variants.

The MK-2 features enhanced range and endurance, including an Onboard Oxygen Generation System, which is being integrated for the first time, and the ability to carry heavy stand-off weapons of the class of Scalp, Crystal Maze and Spice-2000.

Moreover, the MK-2 is 1350 mm longer, featuring canards and can carry a payload of 6,500 kg compared with the 3,500 kg the TEJAS can carry.

The MK-2 will be powered by the General Electric GE-414 engine, which will also power the AMCA.

A GE-414 produces 98kN thrust compared to 84kN thrust of the GE-F404 engine powers the TEJAS MK-1 and MK-1A.

Also, to be noted that the IAF has one squadron of TEJAS in Initial Operational Clearance (IOC) and one squadron in the Final Operational Clearance (FOC) configuration.

Induction of all IOC standard aircraft is complete, while induction of FOC standard is nearing completion.

Manufacturing of the LCA trainer is also underway with deliveries expected to begin this year.

The IAF had earlier placed orders for 20 IOC standard aircraft and 20 FOC standard aircraft, including eight twin seater trainers.

Till date, 31 TEJAS — IOC and FOC combined — have been produced and 26 have been delivered, and few aircraft in the process of being delivered to the customer, HAL sources said.

HAL has already set-up a second assembly line to ramp up production from eight aircraft per year to 16 aircraft per year.