The Light Combat Aircraft `Tejas’ Mk 1A, a potent lightweight fighter is an excellent replacement for the venerable MiG-21 fighter which the IAF fielded for over 5 decades and is a capable 4th Gen aircraft. Besides the UAE, Malaysia, countries like the US too could be interested in these indigenous fighters.
The state-owned Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL) is expected to ramp up production by harnessing both the Bangalore and Nasik factories towards this purpose and complete the deliveries by 2026.
Views of a former Chief Test Pilot
“From the first test flight of the Tejas on 04 Jan 2001 till today, exactly 20 years later, indigenously designed and developed by HAL, the Tejashas steadily matured in the past decade and is all set to be the lightweight fighter backbone of the IAF for the next 25 years,” says Group Captain Badhrish Narasimha Athreya (Retd).
According to the former chief test pilot, “The indigenous content will increase from 50 per cent presently to 60 per cent by the end of delivery schedule. The biggest imported content continues to be the engine (GE 404), the radar (ELTA 2052) and a considerable amount of avionics. This could see an improvement with the success of the UTTAM AESA radar project of DRDO.”
“Though presently integrated with imported weapons such as the R-73 &Derby A-A missiles, the Tejas will be on priority to be integrated with the Astra (India’s indigenous BVR), SAAW (Smart Anti Airfield Weapon) and a host of indigenous weapons being developed by DRDO.”
“The humble beginnings of the `Tejas’ will pave the way for HAL & India’s ambitious indigenous aircraft capability consisting of the HTT-40 (Ab Initio turboprop trainer), IJT (Intermediate Jet Trainer), MWF (Medium Weight Fighter-Tejas Mk 2), a replacement for the Jaguar, Mirage & MiG-29s of the IAF, the ORCA (Omni Role Combat Aircraft), a competitor to the Rafale and AMCA, India’s own 5th gen stealth fighter,” he opines.
“The rising capability and the confidence of the D&D and Flight Test team at HAL can be borne by the fact that UAE and Malaysia have expressed interest in the Tejas and most recently