India’s Hindustan Aeronautics (HAL) will be assembling initial pre-production Medium Weight Fighter (MWF) jets but that doesn’t assure that it will also get rights to manufacture them locally said Industrial sources close to Aeronautical Development Agency (ADA) which is the design agency will pay HAL to manufacture at least, two pre-production MWF fighter jets, which they plan to fly by end of 2023.

ADA is yet to appoint HAL as a production partner and according to Industrial sources, ADA is scouting for private players (Consortium) who can join hands to assemble MWF, once it enters production by 2025-26. The alleged rift between ADA and HAL has been growing supposedly after HAL proposed upgraded LCA-Tejas Mk1A without the participation of ADA which was the design agency for LCA-Tejas program.

ADA was totally in dark on Mk1A program and most of the upgrades planned were to be executed by HAL, thus cutting ADA completely off the program. ADA officials allegedly had warned, IAF officials that they have nothing to do with Mk1A configuration proposed by HAL and they don’t consider it, has their product if the design is tinkled with internally or externally without their consultation by HAL.

HAL already has started groundwork to set up assembly jigs and tool requirements for developing the first few pre-production samples of the Medium Weight Fighter but the focus remains to clinch a deal for supply of 83 LCA-Tejas Mk1A fighter jet to IAF which company is planning to carry out its first flight by 2021. HAL is also proposing the development of Supersonic Omni Role Trainer Aircraft (SPORT) aircraft which will be based on LCA-Tejas Trainer initially designed by ADA, later improvised by HAL since there will be no Twin-seater variant of MWF and AMCA.

HAL was also not favorable of the initial design of Tejas Mk2 which was the same Mk1 air frame with GE’s F-414 engines and instead proposed Mk1A fighter jet which was developed in house by HAL. ADA went back to the drawing board after consulting with IAF and surprised this year by showcasing a model of Medium Weight Fighter (MWF) which now features a maximum all-up weight of 17,500kg, up from 13,500kg for the baseline Tejas, and the aircraft is 1.35m longer and can carry 3.3t or more external stores from the baseline Mk1 air frame.

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