SOURCE: PRAVIN DHAUSKAR / FOR MY TAKE / IDRW.ORG
ADA and HAL are few weeks or even a few days away from finally getting much waited LCA-Tejas Mk1 variant certified with final operational combat status which mark’s clearance of all developmental trials associated with the aircraft’s flight program and standardization of the production line which will further smooth en out assemble line and allow HAL to manufacture more LCA-Tejas per year than its current numbers.
2019 is also the year when HAL will start working on Mk1A variant which will come with new upgraded avionics and sub-systems which were demanded by the customers in recently ordered 83 aircraft. By end of 2019, HAL is expected to start assembly work of the first two Mk1A aircraft which will be ready to make its first flight by end of 2020.
2019 is also a crucial year for the ADA which is likely to showcase its final design for the 17.5-tonne Medium combat aircraft which it has been tasked to design from the current LCA-Tejas design. New aircraft often dubbed LCA-Tejas Mk2 is likely to feature new canards along with additional external wing stores and will be powered by a New GE supplied F414 afterburning turbofan engine in the 22,000-pound (98 kN) thrust class.
India already has started receiving new engines for the new jet and most of the Ingenious Avionics and sub-systems which failed to make into Mk1A aircraft will be incorporated into Mk2 like locally developed Uttam AESA Main fire control Radar, Mission Computer and Electronic Warfare suite. Mk2 was initially planned to have its first flight by 2022, but due to incremental changes to the design and major upgrades to the aircraft’s capabilities, it can be assumed that the first flight likely will only take place somewhere around 2023-24.
ADA which is also working on India’s first 5th generation AMCA fighter program is likely to announce developmental partner which it has selected to develop first two technological demonstrator aircraft under ambitious AMCA program. ADA earlier this year issued Request for Expression of Interest to seek vendors who could manufacture Two Next Generation Technology Demonstrator (NGTD) based on Advanced Medium Combat Aircraft (AMCA) who once selected will also be in charge of manufacturing prototypes.
Selected vendors will be required to start final assembly and equipment integration of NGTD-1 within 3½ of executing a contract with ADA and NGTD-2 within the end of 4th year. As per Major Timeline and Activities planned out for NGTD-1 and NGTD-2 flight testing and completion of initial developmental trials need to be completed by end of 6th year.
Many Private sector companies along with HAL and Boeing have sent their proposals to the ADA and currently, their proposals are been evaluated before a partner for the program is announced sometime in 2019. Many believe final contracts between ADA and winning vendor will also take place and work on the first two technological prototypes will be completed by mid of 2025.
2019 is also a crucial year for the Ghatak UCAV program, where DRDO and its associated labs have planned to test a scale model of the Ghatak design prototype to validate its flight characters before they start working on the full-size prototypes.