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SOURCE:  MAHESHA M / FOR MY TAKE / IDRW.ORG

Fourth fighter program of India to be commenced soon will be Twin Engine Deck Based Fighter (TEDBF) for the Indian Navy after Navy refused to come aboard the LCA-Mk2 program due to concern regarding its single-engine configuration according to a report prepared by the Delhi Defence Review (DDR) which was confirmed to them by ADA which is Nodal design agency for all three different and radical program which will all start in next 5-7 years.

According to the DDR report, TEDBF will be lighter than the proposed 25 tonnes Naval-AMCA, production of which will commence only after 2030 but will more capable than the troublesome Mig-29K operated by the Indian Navy on board INS Vikramaditya which is lone aircraft carrier of the Indian Navy. LCA-Mk2 which was for the first time showcased at the Aero India 2019 will remain a concept and stands canceled after the Navy and ADA agreed to develop TEDBF instead.

TEDBF will be 4.5 generation carrier-based fighter aircraft with twin-engine configuration with MTOW of around 20 tonnes which will have its first flight by 2026. LCA-Mk2 Team will be in charge of the TEDBF program now and ADA is confident that team due to its experience on the Mk1 and Mk2 from the design and concept stage will be able to deliver in time even though many are skeptic of the target date of the first flight which is too short to be accomplished even by western standards.

ADA will now have to juggle between MWF-Mk2, TEDBF, AMCA fighter program which all have the first flight deadline by 2022,2026,2025. Challenging of them all will be the Medium Weight Fighter (MWF) program to be developed for the IAF for which air force already has committed to procure 200 units of them. India’s 5th generation fighter jet program called AMCA is also scheduled to have its first flight in 2025 and IAF already has committed to procure 36 AMCA Mk1 by 2029 and another 100+ AMCA Mk2 once it is ready for production in 2035.

HAL which is developing an upgraded Tejas Mk1A variant which is a further development of the baseline LCA-Tejas Mk1 developed by ADA is now close to secure orders for 83 fighter jets in the next three months and has been tasked to start its production by 2023-24. India looks to field four different classes of fighter jets by 2030 and post that will also see the development of a 5th Generation Naval fighter aircraft based on clean sheet design after AMCA-AF design was rejected to be adopted as Naval fighter jet.

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