Source : Indian Defence Analysis
|LCA Tejas Mark-1A testbed (Above) and Tejas Mark-2 Medium Weight Fighter CGI by Kuntal Biswas (Bottom)|
HAL has two major orders from Indian Air Force to fulfil. The first one is for 40 Tejas MK1 which includes 32 single seat variant and 8 trainer aircraft. The second order is for 83 Tejas Mark1A which includes 73 single seater variant and 10 trainer aircrafts.
From the 1st order of Tejas MK1, 30 Tejas single seater have been produced by HAL and handed over to Indian Air Force, which includes 16 IOC and 14 FOC variant. The remaining 2 LCA Tejas are at advance stages of production and will be handed over by March 2023.
6 more LCA Tejas in FY22
The eight trainers from initial order will be split into two parts and HAL will deliver 4 trainer this year and remaining 4 next year. By March 2023, Indian Air Force will get 6 new fighter jets which will include 2 single seater LCA Tejas and 4 trainer jet. All the trainer versions are going to be the same and will be of FOC standard.
4 Tejas Trainer in FY23
The remaining 4 trainers will be delivered by the financial year 2023. With this the initial order of 40 LCA Tejas will be complete.
1st LCA Tejas Mark 1A in Feb 2024
All the material and component needed is ready including engines and the certifications are going on simultaneously. HAL is looking commence the deliver the first plane on schedule in February 2024 and even trying to advance the delivery of the first plane by a month or so.
HAL has upgraded the LCA Tejas Mark1 with serial production number SP-25 to Mk1A level. The aircraft secretly took its first flight on 20th May 2022. The SP-25 will act as a test platform for the entire production line of the Mk1A version and will undergo certification tests over coming months. HAL is expected to complete the development trials of the Tejas MK1A by the end of year 2023. As per contract, HAL is required to deliver the first three aircraft in 2024 and 16 aircraft annually for the next five years.
LCA Mark 2 Medium Weight Fighter
In September 2022, the CCS gave the much-awaited funding approval for the LCA Mark-2. The CCS has sanctioned 6,500 crore rupees for designing and developing of Tejas Mark-2 fighter jet with prototypes, flight testing, and certification. The allocation comes in addition to the existing 2500 crore rupees sanctioned to HAL.
The development of LCA Mark-2 is very critical for Indian Air Force which is already struggling with the decline squadron strength. Indian Air force will lose at least 3 squadrons of Jaguars & 3 squadrons of Mig-21 by 2030. The loss of 6 Squadron will be fulfilled by the addition of 83 Tejas Mark-1A. However, the squadron strength of IAF will be still close to 31 or 32 which is much lesser than the sanctioned squadron strength of 42.
Therefore, Indian government and Indian air force has high hopes on LCA Mark-2. The air force has committed for 6 squadrons of LCA Mark-2 in Phase-I and additional 4 squadrons in Phase-II.
In an interview to ANI, the HAL CMD CB Ananthakrishnan has said that the funding sanction has already come for LCA Mark II. We hope DRDO and HAL together will be able to roll out the first LCA Mark II somewhere in the year 2024-25. The first flight of the fighter jet can be expected in 2026-27.