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In September of last year, the Cabinet Committee on Security (CCS) approved the LCA Mk2 program. Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL), a state-owned aerospace and defence company, confirmed that the company’s Director (Finance), Ananthakrishnan, HAL plans to roll out a prototype by September 2025, exactly 36 months from the CCS clearance, and the first flight is scheduled for 2026.

There are plans for three additional prototypes of the LCA Mk-2 fighter, which will be rolled out with an eight-month gap between each. Initially, the LCA Mk2 Project Director at Aeronautical Development Agency (ADA), Dr V Madhusudana Rao, announced that four prototypes would be used for complete flight testing and weapon testing, with testing concluding by the end of 2027 so that production could begin in 2028.

However, according to sources familiar with recent developments, the timeline for the LCA Mk2 aircraft entering production is likely to be pushed further to 2030 onwards. Two years is too short of a duration to complete both flight testing and weapon testing, as the first two years may be required solely to obtain initial flight certification for the aircraft. Even with basic weapons clearance, weapon testing will take two or more years.

The Indian Air Force (IAF) is aware of unrealistic production timelines often given by ADA/DRDO officials. Consequently, the IAF is considering purchasing 50 more Tejas Mk1A aircraft that will extend the production line until at least 2030.

The IAF has identified the LCA Mk2 as a crucial component that will eventually fill a critical gap in the fighter squadrons of the Indian Air Force as the MiG-29, Mirage 2000, and Jaguar fleets retire over the next decade.

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