HAL chairman and managing director R. Madhavan recently confirmed that the Tejas Mk1A will take to air by March 2022, what was not disclosed was that it won’t be a newly build aircraft but rather will be a Final Operational Configuration (FOC) Tejas Mk1 aircraft that will be used as a Flying Test Bed (FTB) for the Tejas Mk1A Program. has been told one of the FOC Tejas Mk1 aircraft will be used as FTB to test the Israeli supplied ELTA-ELM-2052 AESA Fire Control Radar (FCR) and the ELL-8222WB self-protection jammer (SPJ) mounted on an external pod.

IAF will be getting 2 Tejas Mk1A jets by March 2024 and 8 more by March 2025, the rest 63 will be handed over by 2029 with a production rate hitting 21 aircraft per year from 2025-26 onwards and the production line to be vacated for the LCA MkII program from 2029-30 onwards.

HAL will be manufacturing 16 LCA-Tejas Trainer Mk1 from 2022-23 and two more in 2023 before it switches to production of single-seater Tejas Mk1A variant for 2023-24. Two LCA divisions in Bengaluru (Plant A and B) are capable of manufacturing 16 jets annually and HAL’s Nashik Plant is getting revamped to create an additional manufacturing facility for production of 5 jets initially that will be further expanded to 8, so in total HAL will be able to cater to 24 aircraft per year subjected if it can bag some export orders.

Some of the advanced features of Tejas Mk1A will be proven on two limited series production (LSP) aircraft, that are being used to improve long-term maintainability issues, replacements of the obsolete Line replacement units (LRUs) that will help in reducing the turnaround time. While FOC Tejas MK1 FTB will be used for the integration of FCR and SPJ but also to test some of the new weapons that are being proposed. has been told nearly 200 flights will be required to certify four new key capabilities over the current Mk1 variant through the incorporation of active electronically scanned array (AESA) radar, electronic warfare (EW) suite, improved maintainability, and beyond-visual-range (BVR) missile capabilities.

HAL also has plans to switch to LRDE developed Uttam AESA FCR from 21st units of the Tejas Mk1A, subjected that it completes all its developmental trials and is cleared for production that seems to be highly likely due to rapid progress the LRDE has done on its development and already has commenced flight trials on a Two LSP Tejas aircraft and soon will start work on upgraded Uttam AESA FCR for the LCA MkII program.

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