In the coming months, the Indian Ministry of Defence (MoD) will be evaluating whether it should, or shouldn't, continue to invest in the development programme of the aircraft carrier-based variant of the Light Combat Aircraft (LCA) TEJAS, which is dubbed TEJAS-N (for Navy).

NDTV, on Tuesday, published a report in which was stated that the Indian MoD was seeking a six-month period to arrive at a decision about this problem. This comes as India already has invested about $US 504 million in the project.

The aim of this six-month period of evaluation is to determine whether the prototypes of the TEJAS-N, which are currently undergoing tests, will result in a multi-role carrier-borne fighter, or not. Until now, the TEJAS-N has been tested with a sink rate of 5.1 m/s, whilst the value required to qualify for carrier-trials is of 5.6 m/s. This is not sufficient but Indian engineers working on the project claim that they will be able to reach the 5.6 m/s within the six-month period.

The team in charge of developing the fighter told NDTV that key landing trials of the fighter will be conducted on a shore-based version of the aircraft carrier deck. Then, trials on India’s INS Vikramaditya carrier will be carried out based on the shore-test results. Test pilots will then have to perform several touch-and-goes on the deck of the Indian carrier before a full-fledged arrested landing. Though, the arrestor gear of the Indian aircraft carrier INS Vikramaditya has key differences from the gear installed at the shore-based test facility, which therefore could bring some problems to the project too.

In addition to that, the TEJAS-N could also suffer from the competition with the Western fighters that the Indian Navy recently sought to acquire. Actually, the Indian Navy invited requests for proposals (RfPs) for a tender to procure 57 multi-role Western fighters to operate off its Indigenous Aircraft Carrier-2 last year. According to Financial Express, the deal is valued at $US 14 Billion. Whether the Navy will have enough funds to procure TEJAS-N aircraft after acquiring the Western jets remains a question, the report added.