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The Indian Air Force’s (IAF) dream of a next-generation fighter jet, the Tejas MkII is taking flight with the approval of funding by the Cabinet Committee on Security (CCS) in 2022. This program, with an initial investment of $1.2 billion, promises a single-seater powerhouse with a surprising twist – the potential for a future twin-seater variant.

The Aeronautical Development Agency (ADA), Program directors leading the Tejas MkII program, has made it clear that the initial design prioritizes a single-pilot configuration. However, While a twin-seater variant wasn’t part of the initial plan, recent developments suggest a shift in stance. Sources familiar with the program indicated that ADA is open to developing a twin-seater Tejas MkII if the IAF requests it.

The IAF and ADA seem to be in agreement that experienced pilots transitioning to the Tejas MkII will primarily require familiarization with its advanced computer systems. This can be achieved through comprehensive training in high-fidelity simulators, eliminating the immediate need for a two-seater trainer.

The core design philosophy behind the Tejas MkII prioritizes adaptability. While envisioned primarily as an air superiority fighter, the potential exists for future variants catering to electronic warfare or ground attack missions. In such scenarios, a twin-seater variant with a dedicated Weapon Systems Officer (WSO) could prove advantageous.

Those familiar with the program emphasize that a potential twin-seater wouldn’t be used for basic pilot training on the Tejas MkII. Instead, it would cater to specific operational needs requiring a two-person crew.

As the program progresses, it will be interesting to see if the IAF pushes for a multi-crew variant and the capabilities it might offer.

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