Indian Defence Ministry in 2023 will be in a dilemma as it will be asked by its premier Aeronautical nodal design agency in the country to clear two major fighter jet projects that will require combined project funds of 28000 crores which are close to over $3.6Billion after it recently cleared 10000 crores for another fighter jet project in 2022. India is actively working on four fighter jet programs simultaneously for its armed force, yet the Indian Air Force is still looking to procure 114 jets under its MMRFA tender that was issued in 2018.

Tejas Mk1A, an upgraded baseline Tejas Mk1 with six major improvements and over dozen changes and upgrades to its components will start arriving from 2024 onwards that will fill the void left by the Mig-21 Squadrons that IAF plans to complete phase-out by 2025 onwards. Tejas Mk2, also called LCA AF Mk2 is a new medium-class fighter jet that is in development to replace all its current Medium class fighter jets like Mig-29, Mirage-2000, and Jaguar fighters from 2029 onwards with a production run planned till late in the 2030s.

AMCA, a 5th gen fighter that India claims will be at par with the likes of F-35 and J-20 is planned to commence its prototype testing flights from 2026 onwards with production planned from 2032 onwards for which it is seeking 15000 crores as Research and Development fund. Even though it is a 25-ton fighter jet same as Rafale it will be replacing older batches of Su-30MKI fighter jets from 2040 onwards and will be top-tier aircraft in the fighter fleet.

India also has plans to develop a Deck-based fighter jet called TEDBF which will be another 26-ton fighter jet that is in the same class as Rafale and AMCA but falls in the 4.5++gen class. TEDBF design seems to have adopted a low observable front section and will utilize most of the tech that has been developed for the AMCA program thus bringing it to par with 5th gen fighter jets even though it’s not. TEDBF is an interesting program since over 13000-crores will be spent on its development while the Navy has requirements only for 45 units that might rise to three digit number if gets approval for the 3rd aircraft carrier.

IAF is very much focused on the LCA AF Mk2 and AMCA programs and if Indian PSUs that are notorious for delays can meet delivery schedules it will make it difficult for the air force to continue to pursue MRFA tenders for foreign jets when it already has two fighter jets program already running in the country, not to forget that TEDBF can be customized for air force if it is willing thus in future it will have 3 fighter jets options to chose from locally thus giving a small window of opportunity for IAF to evaluate and crack a deal for MRFA in next 3-4 years.

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Article by DEEPAK HILORI ,  cannot be republished Partially or Full without consent from Writer or