First flight of the upgraded MK-2 variant of the indigenous TEJAS fighter is anticipated in 2025.

World News

The TEJAS MK-2, an enhanced version of the domestic TEJAS light combat aircraft, is anticipated to have its first test flight in 2025 thanks to an agreement on the joint manufacturing of aero-engines that is currently being concluded between India and the United States.

“The Cabinet Committee on Security has given essential design approval and sanction; manufacture of the first prototype, which would take another 18 months, is scheduled to start soon. Approximately six months after the roll out, the maiden flight might be done, according to Prabhulla Chandran, Technology Director (Avionics and Weapons Systems) at the Aeronautical Development Agency (ADA), who spoke to The Tribune in person today.

The ADA, which is part of the Department of Defence Research and Development, was looking for aero engines for the TEJAS MK-2 on a global scale. France and the United Kingdom were being evaluated as potential sources of power.

For the Indian Air Force (IAF), which could equip 10–12 squadrons, it is initially anticipated that roughly 200 MK-2 variants, categorised as a 4.5 generation, single-engined medium weight fighter, would be produced.

The MK-2 version also boasts strong stealth abilities. “In the case of this aircraft, stealth features are not the driving point in the development process, rather the focus is on operational capability and combat potential,” Chandran stated.

According to Chandran, the MK-2 has a completely new design profile and more indigenous content than the MK-1 model, which is already in use with the IAF. Additionally, it has a greater range and payload carrying capability and is bigger and heavier. The revised design includes some of the enhancements the IAF requested for the prior variant as well as some new features.

The MK-2 model is anticipated to have a 90% indigenous content thanks to locally produced aero engines, radar, and armaments. Some parts, including sensors and ejection seats, would be imported.

About 300 collaborators, including public and private sector research and development establishments, industries, and academic institutions, are involved in the project, in addition to ADA, the nodal agency for the design and development of the aircraft, and Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL), the final production agency, according to Chandran.

The Cabinet Committee on Security had authorised a cost of Rs 10,000 crore for the creation of the MK-2 variant in September 2022. Lack of a sufficient power plant has caused the project to be delayed.

The MK-2 model will reportedly weigh 7.8 tonnes and have a 6.5-ton weapons payload capacity. Over the next about 15 years, it is planned to replace the MiG-29, Mirage-2000, and Jaguar fighters in the IAF’s inventory.

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