Confirmed First flight of LCA Tejas MK-1A in 2020

Chief of the Air Staff, Air Chief Marshal BS Dhanoa, while speaking to local Indian media has confirmed that first flight of updated LCA-Tejas Mk-1A will happen before 2020 and the new variant will address obsolescence issues, improve maintainability of the aircraft and will come with additional capabilities such as Active Electronically Scanned Array (AESA) radar, Beyond Visual Range (BVR) missiles, Air-to-Air Refuelling (AAR) capability, Electronic Warfare (EW) suite and advanced avionics.

While speaking on Final Operational Clearance (FOC) for LCA-Tejas Mk-1, Chief said FOC is likely to be achieved sometime in 2019, which is further way off from June-July 2018 what was initially claimed by both HAL and ADA in the media.

The indigenous Light Combat Aircraft (LCA) Tejas Mk1A fighters with enhanced capabilities including Active Electronically Scanned Array (AESA) radar, Beyond Visual Range (BVR) missiles, Self-Protection Jammer (SPJ) and Air-to-Air Refuelling (AAR) will soon join the Indian Air Force (IAF). The Defence Acquisition Council (DAC) had in late 2017 cleared the acquisition of 83 LCA Tejas Mk1A aircraft for which quotation has been already been submitted by Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL).

The 83 Tejas Mk1A will coast the IAF almost Rs 50,000 crore and help the force in shoring up the depleting number of fighter squadrons. The government had in March 2017 sanctioned Rs 1381.04 crore to ensure that 16 Tejas fighters are produced every year from the current eight aircraft.

IAF and HAL had on March 31, 2006, entered into a contract for procurement of 20 Initial Operational Clearance (IOC) standard Tejas which was to be completed by December 2011. The 20 Final Operational Clearance (FOC) Tejas were to be delivered to the IAF by 2016.

Specification of Tejas MK1-A :

1.Uttam AESA Radar co-developed with Israel’s ELTA corp.

2.More Modern Avionics.

3.Aircraft’s weight reduced by 1000 kg from its initial weight of 6500 kg.

4.Made maintenance friendly by re-configuring some of its LRUs and proper distribution of the dead weight in the aircraft.

5.In-flight refueling capability.

6.Integrated electro-optic Electronic Warfare (EW) sensor.

7.Integration of BVR’s like Astra and Derby (I,II).

8.Integration of Aircraft Parachutes , which will help pilot to land the aircraft if engine fails .

DRDO have also reached a decent way in process of developing stealth technology. DRDO also plans to integrate the home grown Stealth tech with MK1-A variants , once it is completely developed and tested .

DRDO and Indian Government is also in talks with Israeli Raphale , to acquire most modern version of Derby BVR III which have the range of 60–90 KM.

As per offset deal with French Raphale, an agreement have been made to enhance the Home grown Kaveri engine , which will later be fitted to MK1-A variants. Kaveri Engine will have thrust equivalent to GE414 engine and will be fitted to 2D TVC thrust vectoring nozzles . Time frame for the project is 24 months.

Once the stealth technology, Derby BVR III and Modernized Kaveri Engine are integrated with the Tejas MK1-A, this aircraft will become the most deadly aircraft in its class.

The naval version of the Tejas is also getting ready for aircraft carrier operations with the jet undergoing tests to prove the arrestor hook system at Shore Based Test Facility (SBTF), Goa. The Spokesperson of the Indian Navy posted a short video of the LCA Navy undergoing taxi-in with an arrestor hook on its Twitter handle.More tests to check landing and refuelling of the aircraft on a carrier have been planned for the next few months.

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