The Mark 2 variant of HAL’s Tejas LCA will see a transition into the Medium Weight category, from being an LCA as palnned initially, with increased take off capability and more hard points to carry sophisticated weapons like the SPCE bombs and SCALP missiles.

With the Mark 1 and Mark 1A earmarked to replace the perennially ageing, light weight MiG-21s and MiG-27s, the Indian Air Force (IAF) is now demanding futuristic enhancements and diversification of Tejas into various stages through its Mark 2 variant.

Tejas Mark 2, which is in the designing stages, is being billed as a replacement of the Mirage 2000 medium fighters. Hence the increase in the weight of the aircraft to 17.5 tons from the originally intended 14.5 tons. A bigger fuselage, and larger fuel storage are some of the add-ons sought by the IAF, apart from the increased capacity to carry up to 11 weapons at a time. A greater range and endurance are the order of the day as the Tejas Mark 2 is undergoing transitory changes from being an LCA to an MMRCA (Medium Multi-Role Combat Aircraft).

Consistent demand for changes in specifications by the Army, Navy and Air Force is said to be slowing down the flow of the enhancement program of the LCA. According to aviation experts, the proposed modifications may go on till 2025 to come out in a conclusive shape.

Add Teeth To Mirage-2000s

Leveraging its status as a member of the Missile Technology Control Regime (MTCR), India is very keen on arming its Mirage-2000 aircraft with the best-in-their-class long-range meteor missiles, claims reports.

After Wing Commander Abhinandan Varthaman chased the F-16s of Pakistan on his MiG-21 Bison, and shot one down with his R-73 and R-77 missiles, during the dogfight on 27 February soon after IAF attacked the Balakot terror camps, the necessity to equip more of our fighter jets with long-range missiles is being felt.

Even Prime Minister Narendra Modi promptly went on to say, “The whole nation is feeling the need to have Rafales at the moment. Had we possessed Rafales in our inventory, the result would have been different” at an event organised soon after the unfolding of hostilities between the two countries.

In a move to maintain absolute air superiority over its hostile western neighbour, the IAF is going to have a combination of BrahMos NG, Astra, Israeli Derby, Meteor and SCALP missiles among others on its front line combat aircraft. India is working hard with the makers of Meteor missiles to equip them to the indigenously developed Tejas LCAs to make them more lethal. The three squadrons of Mirage-2000s are now getting upgraded extensively.

The 36 Rafales India is buying as of now, will be equipped with the Meteors and SCALP missiles, thus envisaging an edge over its two hostile neighbours in the west and north. As China is not a member of MTCR, it does not have any missiles in its armoury that can match the Meteors, at least as of now.

Our Bureau