|Air Chief Marshal VR Chaudhari (Photo : ANI)|New Delhi: The induction of TEJAS MK-1A in the Indian Air Force (IAF) will begin from the next year, said the IAF chief, Air Chief Marshal VR Chaudhari on Monday. The IAF chief also said that the production of TEJAS MK-2 aircraft should begin in two to three years after its prototype is rolled out. The IAF signed a contract for 83 TEJAS Mk-1As in February 2021. Out of these 83 TEJAS Tejas Mk-1A, 73 will be single-seater aircraft, while the remaining 10 will be final operational clearance (FOC) trainers. The IAF is also in the pipeline to get Advanced Medium Combat Aircraft (AMCA). In February 2022 the Defence Ministry had signed a ₹48,000 crore deal with HAL to supply 83 TEJAS MK-1A to the IAF. HAL will be delivering the first three aircraft in 2024 and 16 aircraft per year for subsequent five years, the Defence Ministry had stated earlier.
We will start manufacturing activities parallel with the testing, Mr. Madhavan said on TEJAS MK-1A schedule.
To ramp up production, HAL has already set up two additional assembly lines. Stating that all three TEJAS assembly lines are operational now, Mr. Madhavan said the back end of the lines is what they are finishing now including supply of sub-assemblies by vendors.
The design for TEJAS MK-2, a much bigger aircraft, has been frozen and some of the manufacturing activities have started. Hopefully by this year end or early 2023 we should have the first roll out of the aircraft, and one year after that it will be taking to the skies, Mr. Madhavan said. “We are targeting early 2023 but we should be able to do it slightly early.”
The TEJAS MK-2 features enhanced range and endurance including Onboard Oxygen Generation System (OBOGS), which is being integrated for the first time. Heavy stand off weapons of the class of Scalp, Crystal Maze and Spice-2000 will also be integrated on the MK-2. The MK-2 will be a heavier and much more capable aircraft than the current TEJAS variants with the aircraft 1350mm longer, featuring canards and can carry a payload of 6,500 kg compared to 3,500 kg by the TEJAS.
IAF had earlier placed orders for 20 IOC (Initial Operational Configuration) standard aircraft and 20 FOC standard aircraft including eight twin seater trainers. The First TEJAS squadron with IOC aircraft is complete and the second squadron with FOC has also been operationalised. Once the FOC aircraft are delivered, the twin seater aircraft would be the balance from this order.