SOURCE: DEEPAK HILORI/ FOR MY TAKE / IDRW.ORG
Tejas Mk2, also known as Tejas LCA MK-II (Light Combat Aircraft), will soon enter the critical prototype construction stage after the Cabinet Committee on Security, led by Prime Minister Narendra Modi, approved the Tejas Mark-2 project at a cost of more than Rs 10,000 crore.
The MK-2 is designed to have improved avionics, weapons, and aerodynamics compared to the earlier version, the Tejas MK-1. It is also planned to have more advanced engines and enhanced air-to-air and air-to-ground capabilities. The Indian Air Force has placed an order for 83 Tejas MK-2 aircrafts to replace its aging fighter fleet.
Unlike previous plans to have a re-engine F414 variant in a slightly stretched Tejas Mk1 airframe, the LCA AF-Mk2 programme was not what it is today until November 2016, when IAF Air HQ sought aircraft to replace the Mirage-2000 and Mig-29 and asked Aeronautical Development Agency to work on it. In 2018, the IAF requested more changes to the LCA AF-Mk2 programme and requested that ADA incorporate more heavy stand-off weapons. PSQRs (Preliminary Staff Qualitative Requirements) for the LCA AF-Mk2 programme were only released in July 2019.
The first milestone was achieved in late 2020 with the successful completion of the preliminary design review (PDR), and the second milestone was achieved in December 2021 with the Deputy Chief of Air Staff (DCAS) accepting its comprehensive design review (CDR), which cleared the way for the state-owned Hindustan Aeronautics Ltd (HAL) to begin releasing drawings for fabricating the first prototype of LCA AF-Mk2.
LCA AF-Mk2, which was supposed to fly 36 months after CCS clearance, will be rolled out by October 31, 2025, with its first flight scheduled for December 20, 2026. The LCA AF-Mk2 that was granted permission in 2009 is not the same beast that we will see in 2026; it is a different beast with far more advanced features. Legacy Program names like Tejas Mk2 and LCA AF-Mk2 were kept because they were seen as improved variants, but due to bureaucratic processes, it could have been useful if the IAF had allowed it to be named Medium Weight Fighter (MWF) as proposed by the ADA in 2019.
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