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The Twin Engine Deck Based Fighter (TEDBF) program, which aims to develop a next-generation naval fighter aircraft for the Indian Navy, may face further delays as the Cabinet Committee on Security (CCS) clearance for the Advanced Medium Combat Aircraft (AMCA) 5th generation program is expected to take precedence.

The CCS clearance for the AMCA program, which focuses on the development of an indigenous 5th-generation fighter jet, is likely to be granted only by the end of this year, potentially causing a ripple effect on the TEDBF program.

Previously, P. Thangavel, the project director for the Naval Light Combat Aircraft (LCA)-Mk1 project in the Aeronautical Development Agency (ADA), had stated at the DefExpo in Gujarat last year that CCS clearance for TEDBF was expected by mid-2023. Following the clearance, it was estimated that it would take another 1.5-2 years to develop the prototype.

However, according to sources familiar with the matter told idrw, the CCS clearance for TEDBF might be delayed until early 2024 or the middle of next year. This delay could have an impact on the rollout plans, pushing them from 2025 and the first flight from 2026 by an additional 12 to 18 months. Consequently, the induction of TEDBF into the Indian Navy, intended as a replacement for the existing MiG-29K fighters, could also face a further delay beyond the projected timeline of 2031-32.

Despite the potential delays, certain progress has been made in the TEDBF program. Earlier this year, a preliminary Design Review of the aircraft was completed, signifying a step forward in the development process. Additionally, high-speed modelling to test the supersonic characteristics of the TEDBF has been successfully carried out. The TEDBF is envisioned as a medium-weight twin-engine fighter aircraft, with a target weight of 26 tonnes and the capability for wing folding to facilitate operations from aircraft carriers.

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