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The Indian Air Force (IAF) is gearing up for a major expansion of its fighter jet fleet, with both the advanced Tejas Mk1A and the next-generation Tejas Mk2 programs gaining momentum. The IAF has confirmed plans to order 97 additional LCA-Tejas Mk1A fighter jets, on top of the 73 already ordered in 2021.

This brings the total number of Mk1A jets to 170, significantly bolstering the IAF’s fleet of indigenous fighter aircraft. In addition to 36 older Mk1 and 18 LCA-Tejas Trainer. The increased production rate will see HAL scaling up production from the current 8 aircraft per year to 24 by 2026, ensuring timely delivery of the new jets.

IAF plans to raise two new Tejas Mk1A squadrons each year starting from 2026, bolstering its air combat capabilities significantly. While the Mk1A program sees immediate expansion, the IAF remains committed to the development of the Tejas Mk2, a heavier and more potent variant of the fighter jet and has commited to procure 12-130 units when it is ready to enter production.

The Mk2 program received its first funding allocation in September 2023, paving the way for accelerated development. HAL and ADA are already placing orders for components and production equipment for the first two Mk2 prototypes, aiming for rollout within the next 3 years.

The first flight of the Tejas Mk2 is expected to take place within 4 years, marking a significant milestone for Indian aviation technology.

The IAF is skillfully managing the simultaneous growth of both Tejas programs, ensuring a steady flow of new jets while keeping the future-oriented Mk2 development on track. The additional orders for Mk1A provide a valuable bridge, equipping the IAF with modern fighters while the Mk2 undergoes final development.

By the time the Mk2 enters service, the IAF will have a robust foundation of Mk1A experience and expertise, facilitating a smooth transition to the more advanced variant.

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