India’s state-owned aerospace and defence company Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL) will soon initiate Internal Project to convert LCA-Tejas Two Seater Trainer aircraft to be converted into Supersonic Advanced lead-in fighter trainer (LIFT) for possible export in International market.

First Fighter/Trainer Variant of LCA-Tejas PV-5 (KH-T2009) had its first flight in 2009 followed by PV-6 (KH-T2010) in 2014. Trainer Variant of LCA-Tejas was primarily developed as a two-seat operational conversion trainer for the Indian Air Force Squadrons which will operate LCA-Tejas in future.

While only two Trainer Variant of LCA-Tejas were ever produced till date, it is likely more will be ordered by IAF in small numbers to aid Pilot training for new squadrons of LCA-Tejas. Both Trainer Variant are reportedly approaching their Initial Operational Certification (IOC) Standard and HAL and ADA are also now confident enough that now Trainer Variants are regularly been used to carry out sorties for VVIP dignitaries and Air office officials of friendlier countries to demonstrate capabilities of the LCA-Tejas.

Trainer Variant of LCA-Tejas has caught the attention of many friendlier Air force officials who visit India for Aerospace events like Aero India, in fact, last year in Aero India 2017 Tejas Trainer Variants flew many prominent Indian defence journalists and important dignitaries which included Air force chief of Turkmenistan and Singapore Defence Minister Ng Eng Hen showing to the world that it is now a reliable aircraft .

Trainer Variant of LCA-Tejas first caught the attention of German Government who offered to buy a small fleet of them for German Air Force if India had agreed to procure 126 Eurofighter Typhoon under its MMRCA Tender. Since then many countries have shown interest in the Trainer Variant but many are looking more of a practical trainer which Trainer Variant of LCA-Tejas isn’t.

Many Air-forces around the world are looking out for Next-generation trainers to prepare their pilots to fly next-generation 4++ and 5th generation fighter aircrafts like Dassault Rafale, Euro fighter and F-35. Older trainer aircrafts simply cannot complete many advanced pilot training tasks due to lack of modernisation and also due to them being subsonic in flight characters.

LCA-Tejas LIFT variant will require more pilot-friendly cockpit and will require new avionics along with Large-Area-Avionics-Display (LAAD) to mimic next-generation fighter aircrafts. LCA-Tejas LIFT variant should also allow a new pilots to carry out a simulated tactical situation with accurate radar, infrared, and other target information displays to get the feel for operating a front line fighter aircraft at a fraction of the cost.

Thier is little evidence to show that Indian Air Force has shown any interest in development and procurement of lead-in fighter trainer (LIFT) for its Pilot Training program but HAL is keen on pursuing development of LCA-Tejas LIFT variant using it owns funds, since it believes that there is market out their for such product and only time will see if they succeed .

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