Twin-engine Medium Class Omni-Role Combat Aircraft (ORCA) or Twin Engine Deck Based Fighter (TEDBF) program is supposed to be joint development of Indian Air Force (IAF) and Indian Navy to replace its aging fleet of fighter jets in the Medium Class Roles but an announcement of the program by the country’s premier nodal aeronautics design institute Aeronautical Development Agency (ADA) itself will not translate into the actual development of the program has it waits for Government funding nod and IAF’s participation in the program.

Informed sources close to have confirmed that IAF has not made any official commitment yet to join the program and is currently studying the proposal made by ADA and is planning to have a round table meeting with all the stakeholders while first few stretches of the proposed fighter jet is getting circulated online.

ADA has asked for nearly 13000 crores in developmental funds for the program which is close to $2 Billion, which is way more then what India had spent on the research and development of the LCA-Tejas program (9000 crores) for nearly 30 years. Indian Navy plans to retire its fleet of 45 Carrier-based Mig-29k over the years after TEDBF enters production in 2030 and order 57 additional but Navy wants IAF to join in to share a certain percentage of Developmental cost of the new fighter jet and along with that place orders for IAF’s version called ORCA.

ADA proposed to develop a 4.5 Generation Twin-engine fighter jet in 25-tonne class for carrier operations and an Airforce variant with lighter landing gears and modified rear and lower fuselage which will make it lighter by around 1.5 tonnes than the Navy version. The final design phase of the program is yet to commence while a few stretches of the proposed fighter has been going around, the final design will have many changes incorporated into it as it benefits from both the technology developed for AMCA and MWF-Mk2 program.

ADA Chief had said that the first flight of the proposed jet can take place by 2026 if the Government nod and funding comes by this year which is unlikely to happen. Navy is ready to partially fund the program from its funds if IAF and MOD agree to fund in a later stage but the discussion on the financial aspect is still to take place as confirmed to

IAF has a total requirement for 200 jets which will replace its fleet of Jaguar, Mig-29 and Mirage-2000 from 2035 onwards over the proposed acquisition of 114 jets from a foreign OEM. IAF had initially planned to acquire 201 MWF-Mk2 fighter jet which is in development and will have its first flight by 2022. IAF already is committed to procuring 83 Tejas Mk1A over 40 which already has placed orders for and around 40 AMCA Mk1 by 2030.

IAF is fully backing the MWF-Mk2 fighter jet program and is already actively monitoring the program so that it is ready to enter production at least by 2027. Informed sources close to says that IAF will just have to see if it will be able to fund and induct fourth indigenously developed fighter jet over three which it is already committed to and 114 jet it plans to buy from a foreign OEM.


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