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SOURCE: NARAYAN APTE/ FOR MY TAKE / IDRW.ORG

The Tejas-MkII is its direct predecessor of Tejas Mk1/1A and looks externally very similar to its forebears but it’s a very different beast in several ways. Officially the Program is still called MkII but DRDO now calls its LCA AF-MkII even though the aircraft is 1350mm larger than the Mk1/1A and includes a beefed-up fuselage that means it is has a Clean Take off the weight of 4,000 kgs more than that of Tejas Mk1.

The Tejas Mk.II for the Air Force was initially planned to have a higher thrust GE-F414 engine and one of the reasons why it still carries the same name officially. It is now confirmed more or less that the project will again move from the LCAAF-MkII since with MTOW of 17500kg, it can’t be called as Light Weight nor Medium Weight Fighter (MWF) which was used for a while.

HAL is planning to roll out the first Pre-Production LCAAF-MkII by end of next year and it is expected first flight will take place sometime in 2023. MkII will complete its certification process in 2027 followed by production in 2028-29. DRDO-ADA is planning to give the aircraft a new name after the first flight is concluded most likely to be picked up from the PM office.

DRDO-ADA plans to send a set of viable names to the PM office after rollout and it is expected that PM will attend the first flight of the aircraft in 2023 which might be used as an opportunity to give it a new name. DRDO-ADA doesn’t want a brand new jet to be called Tejas Mk. II when it is so much better and packs a different punch than its predecessor that it hopes also will help in the marketing of the jet in the export market, but Saab is still calling its newest variant of Gripen as Gripen-E and want to maintain the brand value that Gripen has built over the year, AMCA getting a new name is justifiable but if India wants to build a brand name then its important Bigger Tejas is still called a Tejas.

While Tejas Mk1 is yet to taste export success, HAL is holding talks with at least three countries with one promising order likely to be inked in the next few years as per officials. Tejas Mk1 will also have a spin-off LIFT program that too will have great export potentials that will help HAL to build Brand Tejas in the International market and it will be crucial that the same name is carried forward for the MkII since the aircraft is quite similar in appearance and will help in the market it better in the export market.

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