First Flight of LCA Tejas Mark 1A Fighter Aircraft

On March 28, 2024, the Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL) successfully completed the first flight of the indigenous light combat aircraft (LCA) Tejas Mark 1A fighter jet in Bengaluru. The aircraft was airborne for 15 minutes during its maiden flight.

About LCA Tejas

The Light Combat Aircraft (LCA) Tejas is a single-engine, multirole light fighter aircraft designed and developed by the Aeronautical Development Agency (ADA) and Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL) for the Indian Air Force and Indian Navy.

It is the smallest and lightest in its class of contemporary supersonic combat aircraft. The Tejas is designed to carry air-to-air, air-to-surface, precision-guided, and standoff weaponry, and has a maximum payload capacity of 3,500 kg.

Different versions of LCA Tejas

The LCA Tejas has several variants, each with specific enhancements and capabilities. The main versions of the LCA Tejas are:

  • Tejas Mark 1: The initial operational clearance (IOC) version, with limited capabilities and weaponry.
  • Tejas Mark 1A: An enhanced version of the Mark 1, featuring improved avionics, radar, electronic warfare capabilities, and the ability to carry a wider range of weapons.
  • Tejas Mark 2 (Medium Weight Fighter): A significantly improved version with a more powerful engine, increased payload capacity, and advanced avionics. It is currently under development.
  • Tejas Navy (LCA Navy): A naval variant of the Tejas, designed for carrier operations. It has a strengthened airframe, arrester hook, and other necessary modifications for naval use.
  • Tejas Trainer: A two-seat training variant of the LCA Tejas, designed for pilot training and familiarization.

These variants represent the evolution of the LCA Tejas program, with each version incorporating lessons learned and advancements in technology to enhance the aircraft’s capabilities.

LCA Tejas Mark 1A

As mentioned above, the LCA Tejas Mark 1A is an enhanced version of Tajas Mark 1. It features improved avionics, radar, and electronic warfare capabilities compared to the previous Mark 1 variant. The Mark 1A is equipped with an advanced AESA radar, a self-protection jammer, and can carry a wider variety of weapons. The Indian Air Force has ordered 83 Tejas Mark 1A aircraft to bolster its fleet.

Deployment Plans

According to reports, the LCA Tejas Mark 1A fighter aircraft is likely to be deployed at the Nal airbase in Rajasthan’s Bikaner, near the Pakistan border. The first squadron of the aircraft is planned to be stationed at the Nal airbase, allowing it to monitor and respond to potential threats from the western adversary.

HAL’s Efforts

The state-owned public sector unit, HAL, is working towards delivering the first twin-seater trainer version of the LCA Tejas to the Indian Air Force (IAF) as soon as possible. The company aims to meet the delivery deadline by March 31, 2024.

IAF’s Commitment

The IAF has already signed a contract worth over ₹48,000 crore with HAL for the supply of 83 LCA Tejas planes. Additionally, the IAF has clearance to purchase 97 more LCA Mark 1A fighter jets at a cost of ₹65,000 crore.

Previous Inductions In 2016, the LCA Mark 1 aircraft were inducted into the IAF. Currently, two IAF squadrons (45 Squadron and 18 Squadron) operate the light combat aircraft Tejas.



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