The Indian Air Force (IAF) is set to play a more hands-on role in the Tejas MkII Program as it assumes responsibility for the integration phase of weapons testing. This marks a shift from the Tejas Mk1A Program, where the Aeronautical Development Agency (ADA) and Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL) handled weapons testing, including the Initial Operational Clearance (IOC) and Final Operational Clearance (FOC) configuration testing.

In the Tejas MkII Program, the focus will be on successful integration testing and safe separation releases of weapons systems. The IAF, in collaboration with ADA and HAL, will clear weapons systems based on hardware and software integration, as well as results obtained from computer simulations.

One notable departure in the Tejas MkII program is the absence of the IOC or FOC phase. Once the third and fourth pre-production Tejas MkII jets join the program, ADA will certify and integrate four air-to-air missiles. These will include two within-visual-range air-to-air missiles and two beyond-visual-range air-to-air missiles, along with smart precision-guided munitions.

The IAF will take over the weapons integration program, which will streamline the induction process by reducing the need to test all weapons before deployment. ADA-HAL will clear the initial set of weapons in Phase I, allowing the aircraft to enter production. Subsequently, the IAF will assume responsibility for testing and clearing new weapons, a process expected to take an additional 4-5 years.

This shift in approach is aimed at expediting the weapons integration program for the Tejas MkII, ensuring that the fighter jet remains at the cutting edge of technology and capabilities. The IAF’s direct involvement in this phase is expected to enhance the overall efficiency of the program.

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