India is considering whether to build its own carrier-based fighter.
The Indian military is envisioning a twin-engine version of its land-based Tejas lightweight fighter. The new jet, which could be deployed by 2032, would replace India’s Russian-made MiG-29K carrier-based fighters. India currently has one carrier, the Vikramaditya, and is building a second. An Indian Navy contract calls for fifty-seven jets, with one candidate being Boeing’s F/A-18E/F Super Hornet.
But the prospects for an Indian-built carrier fighter were heightened when the Indian Ministry of Defense announced that a prototype, single-engine naval version of the Tejas made an arrested landing (see the video here) aboard the Vikramaditya in January 2020. The twin-engine design, called the Navy Twin Engine Deck Based fighter, is still in the conceptual stage.
“Weighing 23 tonnes, the Navy Twin Engine Deck Based fighter would be significantly larger than the 13.5 ton Tejas Mk-1 fighter which has entered squadron service with the Indian Air Force and the 17.5 ton Tejas Mk-2 which is meant to be inducted into the Indian Air Force from 2030,” according to India’s NDTV television network.
“The fighter would be in the size of the MiG-29K currently being operated by the Indian Navy on its aircraft carrier, the INS Vikramaditya and would have the ability of carrying a weapons payload of nine tons. It would feature folding wings to save space on the deck of aircraft carriers.”
“The jet would likely have a top speed in the range of Mach 1.6 or just under 2,000 kilometers [1,243 miles] per hour,” NDTV added. It would feature electronics and weapons that India is developing, including Active Electronically Scanned Radar (AESA) radar and a long-range version of the Astra air-to-air missiles.