The Indian Air Force is taking a major step forward in its indigenous fighter jet program with the first upgraded Tejas MK1A aircraft nearing its maiden flight. Scheduled for later this month, the jet boasts a range of improvements including a new mission computer, smart multi-function displays (MFDs), an Active Electronically Scanned Array (AESA) radar, and an advanced electronic warfare suite.

Currently undergoing final assembly checks before the aircraft will embark on low and high-speed trials after successful ground testing. If all goes well, the inaugural flight could occur by early March, paving the way for further testing and eventual squadron deployment.

A second MK1A fighter jet is also joining the program, although its first flight is likely in April. The Indian Air Force aims to establish the first MK1A squadron at the Nal airbase in Rajasthan by May. This base currently houses MiG-21Bis squadrons, with one being converted to accommodate the new Tejas jets.

This development marks a significant milestone in India’s journey towards self-reliance in fighter aircraft technology. The Tejas MK1A is expected to significantly enhance the capabilities of the Indian Air Force, offering improved situational awareness, superior targeting accuracy, and enhanced electronic warfare capabilities. With the first squadron expected to be operational by May, the IAF is on track to bolster its airpower with this advanced indigenous fighter jet.