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India’s state-owned Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL) is encountering a slight delay in the first flight of its upgraded Tejas Mk1A fighter jet, according to prominent defense journalist Anantha Krishnan M. The originally planned internal company deadline for this month appears out of reach.

While the maiden flight might slip to mid-March, the good news is that the first newly built aircraft’s sortie could be witnessed by Prime Minister Modi, possibly even remotely.

This development comes after HAL’s initial commitment to deliver the first two Tejas Mk1A jets to the Indian Air Force (IAF) by March 2024. However, HAL Chairman had previously expressed confidence in delivering them even earlier, by February.

Officials acknowledge the delay but assure it’s minor. The primary reason cited is the integration of an improved digital fly-by-wire flight control computer (DFCC) into the Mk1A variant. Testing this critical component on older LCA Tejas aircraft seems to have taken longer than anticipated, impacting taxi trial schedules.

Despite missing the initial target of delivering two jets by February, HAL maintains confidence in fulfilling the March-end deadline for those aircraft. Further deliveries are expected throughout the year, with the entire squadron projected to be operational by 2028.

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