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India’s state-owned Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL) reportedly back in 2019 had proposed a design and development plan for a twin-engine fighter jet based on the LCA-Tejas platform, specifically catering to the Indian Navy’s needs. This proposal comes amidst discussions on the Twin Engine Deck Based Fighter (TEDBF) program spearheaded by the Aeronautical Development Agency (ADA).

Sources close to the development told that HAL pre-empted the TEDBF program with their proposal. Their experience with the single-engine Naval LCA, used as a technology demonstrator, positions them as a contender. The ADA, the designated nodal agency for fighter jet design in the Country, initially proposed a 16.5-ton single-engine Naval LCA Mk2 with more powerful F-414 engines. However, concerns regarding the safety of single-engine fighter operations on aircraft carriers led to its rejection.

HAL soon proposed a solution to tackle this safety concern by incorporating twin engines. Their design would be based on the existing LCA platform, offering a quicker development timeline compared to a completely new design. While details remain undisclosed, the proposed fighter was expected to be heavier than the rejected Naval LCA Mk2, potentially reaching 25 tons.

The initial variant is likely to be powered by the F-414 engines, currently used on the Tejas MkII. However, the long-term goal seems to be equipping the production variant with indigenously developed engines. These engines would be derived from the technology being developed for the AMCA MkII, India’s next-generation 5th generation fighter jet program. This collaboration with a foreign Original Equipment Manufacturer (OEM) would leverage expertise while fostering domestic engine development capabilities.

The ADA’s TEDBF program proposed a completely new design with twin engines. TEDBD is likely envisioned to be as a heavier platform compared to HAL’s offering at 26-tons. The development timeline for TEDBF might be longer due to its fresh design approach.

The Indian Navy decided that TEDBF will meet its requirements better. HAL’s proposal leveraged on the existing experience and could have offered a potentially faster development cycle, while the ADA’s TEDBF program promises a more advanced, purpose-built design.

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