The tail number ” MPP” could be adopted after the late Raksha Mantri (RM) Manohar Parrikar, a Former IITian who served as Chief Minister of Goa and a force behind the Indian Air Force (IAF) and Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL) coming onboard for the development of the upgraded Tejas Mk1A that was recently approved by Union Cabinet under the chairmanship of Prime Minister Narendra Modi for 83 jets.

Sandeep Unnithan, the Executive Editor with India Today, has said that most of the parties from IAF and HAL are on board with this idea to use ” MPP-XXXX” initials on all 73 Tejas Mk1A that are approved recently. ” MPP” in a way is to thank the former RM for the role he had played to get all parties on board and iron out differences and agree to interim development of MK1A that will come before Mk2 jet.

Manohar Parrikar in his brief stint as RM had taken a deep interest in the long-delayed LCA-Tejas program when IAF was not willing to order more than 40 jets in Mk1 configuration. IAF back then was backing the development of Tejas Mk2 will increased capabilities and better engines, but waiting for the Mk2 program could have meant that the aircraft could be ready for production only in late 2028 when IAF was already facing squadron level decline due to retirements of older jets.

HAL had proposed Mk1A configuration with a host of improvements and upgrades through the incorporation of four key technology like active electronically scanned array (AESA) radar, self-protection jammer (SPJ) on a pod, and beyond-visual-range (BVR) missile capabilities and improving the “maintainability” of the fighter, and fitting it with external refueling capability.

IAF’s Top leadership was apprehensive of the MK1A jet and feared over the selling of the idea by HAL who could later flutter at the time of deliveries. Parrikar to address these issues put forward some waypoints that HAL needs to deliver before the program could get official approval that was able to convince IAF to agree to the development of the MK1A configuration. Parrikar contributed in getting HAL to outsource most of its manufacturing to the Private sector companies and create an independent supply chain before Mk1A went into production. HAL also moved away from being lead manufacture to lead integrator for the program to ensure that the program stays on schedule and it has production capabilities in hand that could cater to higher production order.

HAL already has made investments in two production lines in Bangalore that can manufacture 16 jets annually and now also has open up the possibility of delivering 5 more jets from its Nashik Plant, which could act as the third production line for the type even before the deal for 83 jets were concluded. Most of the technologies meant to be equipped on the MK1A configuration have been already tested on Two LSP Tejas that are acting as Testbed for the program and recently also reported that the HAL has gone head and completed the development of software and new hardware like DFCC for the program with its funds.

It is said that the roadmap visioned by the Parrikar was followed that required building capabilities first rather than to rely on promises due to which Tejas Mk1A program is becoming a reality now and it could be right to honor him in a small way. IAF won’t be requiring any permissions from the Union Government since it is free to have initials of tail numbers on jets as per its choice.

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