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SOURCE: IDRW NEWS NETWORK

State-owned Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL) earlier this year bagged the biggest order for locally made fighter jet when the Indian Air Force (IAF) placed orders for 73 units of Tejas Mk1A and 10 Tejas Trainer, but HAL officials who want to remain anonymous speaking to idrw.org has said that Internal production of the company still sees the possibility of getting production orders for more 60-80 jets as company ramps up production from 2023-24 onwards.

HAL and IAF have agreed to Jointly develop Tejas lead-in fighter trainer (LIFT) variant based on the Tejas Trainer airframe for which it has got in-principal approval for the development of the Tejas LIFT from IAF and also procurement projection of 30-40 jets from the IAF while HAL is trying also to get Navy onboard the program as well.

HAL plans to demonstrate Tejas LIFT Flying Test Bed by 2024-25 using one of the Trainer aircraft that could be followed with user trials and orders. HAL is also in talks with the Indian Navy to seal a deal for 8 LCA-Navy aircraft that could be used to train pilots for deck-based operations and also for combat roles even though the Navy has rejected plans to procure them in large numbers but has shown interest in smaller numbers while its backing TEDBF Project.

HAL is in talks with 3 countries for the sale of Tejas and its Trainer jet and is confident that it can close at least one export orders that will see up to 30+ jets procured. To lure countries looking for a low-cost option, HAL also has plans to develop a low-cost aircraft called Tejas Ex(port) that will be customized to further reduce costs by removing components that are not required or requested by the potential operator.

HAL has tied up with Bangalore based startup, NewSpace Research and Technologies (NRT) for the development of Loyal Wingman Program called CATS Warrior where HAL plans to use Tejas Trainer aircraft as Max (Mothership) to guide the Loyal Wingman Program with a customized second cockpit for the Remote Pilot to operate them. HAL sees potential orders for at least 12-18 Tejas-Max aircraft once the program hits production.

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