With days away from a deal for 83 Tejas Mk1A jets with HAL is to be concluded between IAF and MOD, HAL Chairman R Madhavan in a media interview has confirmed Aircraft Research and Design Centre (ARDC) has completed the structural design of the new variant of Light Combat Aircraft. Tejas Mk1A will see a few improvements and strengthening on the Structural Design for better operations and maintainability. All these re-design/modifications to design, of not only the structure but also the electrical wiring, cooling system, etc. have been completed.

While HAL was waiting for the order of 83 upgraded Tejas Mk1A jets, HAL used its Internal funds and developed all the above-mentioned redesign as well as gone ahead with in-house development of the various systems and software. Two LSP Tejas Mk1 are being used as a Testbed to test many of these redesigned structural design changes.

HAL is in charge of making Tejas Mk1A jets not only lighter but also make them easily maintainable while in service. has been informed that a lot of dead weight inside the aircraft is also being moved to make it easy for repairs to also make room for quite a few new System/Sensors like AESA Radar, EW Suite, DMG, etc. Open architecture Digital Flight Control Computer (DFCC) developed for the Tejas Mark 2 Program has been installed in the confined DFCC chassis of the Mark 1 successfully that comes as a major boost for the aircraft’s computing power and steps towards having commonality with the Tejas Mark 2 jet.

Delivery of Tejas Mark 1A will begin 36 months after the contract date, so it should begin in 2023 if it is concluded by Aero India in 2021. HAL will maintain 20 aircraft per annum delivery schedule from the start so that IAF gets all 83 jets in little over 4 years from the time the first jet was handed over to IAF. HAL and DRDO have agreed with the client (IAF) to switch to DRDO developed Uttam AESA Fire control Radar (FCR) when they enter production but it is likely at least the first few units will come with the Israeli ELTA ELM/2052 AESA FCR upgraded with a self-protection jammer (SPJ), that also will be supplied by Elta.

HAL is in process of integrating India’s first indigenous Astra Mk1 air-to-air missile on the home-grown fighter jet LCA-Tejas Mk1 so that it can be cleared to be operational on both Tejas Mk1 and Mk1A that use two different DFCC and FCR. IAF has selected MBDA developed ASRAAM Close Combat Missile (CCM) to be used as a Standard Within Visual Range air-to-air missile along with the Medium ranged Astra Mk1 BVRAAMs.

Russian R-73 CCM will remain backup Within Visual Range air-to-air missile, but there is no plan to use it as a standard weapon due to lack of OEM support for their integration. Astra Mk2 and Astra Mk1A (IR) are the other two missiles that will become standard Medium and Long-range air-to-air missile when it enters service in 2023, Israeli Derby BVRAAM is interim backup BVRAAM to be used in the fleet while Astra Mk2 and Astra Mk1A (IR) enters mass-scale production.

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