The TEJAS program has proceeded apace and currently there are two squadrons of the TEJAS in service with the IAF No. 45 Squadron (Flying Daggers) at Air Force Base Sulur was declared active on 1 July 2016, while No. 18 Squadron (Flying Bullets) got its first TEJAS on 27 May 2020.Of the initial order of 40 TEJAS, 16 each are of IOC and FOC standard while the rest are twin-seater.

TEJAS MK-1 FOC (SP-21) conducted its first flight on 16 March 2020. The most easily observable additional feature of the FOC variant is its air-to-air refuelling probe. The FOC standard has additional fuel carrying capability. While the TEJAS IOC carries 2,350 kg fuel carrying capability of IOC variant with its external drop tanks of 1,200 and 800 litres capacity, TEJAS FOC has an additional 725 litres centre line drop tank with pressure refuelling.

The TEJAS FOC will be equipped with one Derby or Astra BVRAAM as well as ASRAAM or R-73E for close range air combat, and the GSH 23 mm twin barrelled cannon will be integral


TEJAS MK-1A is a further modification of the basic TEJAS and will have 43 ‘improvements’ over the current platform. Some of these are:

Open Architecture Mission Systems for seamless net centric operation through software defined radio, 3D , vector , full colour satellite map modes

Active Electron Scanned Array (AESA) Radar: Low Probability of Intercept (LPI), the AESA radar provides extended air to air track ranges for launching BVRAAMs even in interleaved modes on multiple targets which can be clearly identified, utilising advanced NCTR mode and integrated Interrogator/Transponder.

There is a new generation AESA-based jamming system with higher effective radiated power (ERP) through directional noise, directed deception and hybridized jamming techniques. According to public reports, some of the initial TEJAS MK-1A will be equipped with the Israeli-origin ELTA 2052 while later models will get the indigenously developed Uttam.

Digital Wideband Radar Warning Receiver: Multi-channel digital receivers with instantaneous tracking & identification of emitters in the entire frequency band, deeply integrated with passive modes of AESA radar and AESA jammer.

New Generation Helmet Mounted Display System (HMDS): Wide envelope Helmet Mounted Display System with fully integrated air-to-air and air-to-ground modes; enhanced trackers with strap on Inertial sensors provide maintenance free, high accuracy operations

First flight of the first TEJAS MK-1A is projected around 2023. The Cabinet Committee on Security headed by the Prime Minister approved procurement of 73 TEJAS MK-1A fighter aircraft and 10 TEJAS MK-1A trainer aircraft at the cost of Rs. 45,696 crore along with Design and Development of Infrastructure sanctions worth Rs.1,202 crore.

TEJAS MK-2 Or MWF (Medium Weight Fighter)

The TEJAS MK-2 is further development of the MK-1 being an attempt to develop a platform of medium category with advanced features. The former CAS ACM BS Dhanoa said in 2018, “We’re looking at 12 squadrons of the Light Combat Aircraft MK-2”. However, his successor ACM RKS Bhadauria has stated “In the long run, the IAF will have 40+83 TEJAS MK I/IA and around six squadrons of TEJAS MK-2. Eventually, we aim to boost our capabilities with the fifth generation plus AMCA (Advanced Medium Combat Aircraft)”. According to latest reports 170 MK-2 version is being considered. We now examine some features of the MK-2 on how this compares with the TEJAS MK-1A in terms of capability:

Addition of Canards: The most distinctive feature of the TEJAS MK-2 is addition of close coupled canards, positioned below the avionics bay cover, just behind the cockpit, above the wing plane and below the avionics bay cover. These are set at a negative dihedral angle, the addition significantly increasing lift produced by the wing and augmenting lift act as air brakes to reduce landing roll, stabilise the wing LE vortices for medium to high angle of attack and to help achieve better area ruling for reduced wave drag.

Longer Fuselage: The MK-2 will have a longer fuselage than the TEJAS MK-1A, length of the fuselage increased to 14.6m. The increased internal volume is to facilitate carrying of additional systems with more internal fuel, this increase range, endurance and enhancing performances.

Leading Edge Root Extension: LERX will have a positive impact on the wing aerodynamics stability.

New AESA: Expected to be equipped with indigenous Uttam AESA.

Stealth: To decrease the radar cross section (RCS) several measures have been taken. Carbon composites of the airframe will decrease the RCS as also paint coating with Radar Absorbing Material. The air intake ducts will feature a twisted design so that engine blades are shrouded within the intake duct.

Smart Large Area Display (LAD) and Head Up Display (HUD): The TEJAS MK-2 will be equipped with upgraded Fly by Wire (FBW) controls with advanced Digital Flight Control Computer (DFCC), indigenous actuators, a Smart Cockpit, Internal Unified Electronic Warfare Suite (UEWS), On Board Oxygen Generated System (OBOGS), Infrared Search and Track (IRST) and Missile Approach Warning System (MAWS).

More composites in the air frame will decrease its weight, with empty weight of 7,000 kg, lighter than even the TEJAS MK-1, and able to carry 3300 kg of internal fuel with take-off clean weight of 11000 kg. The maximum take-off weight will be increased to 17,500 kg. Hard points will be increased to 11 thus despite of Self Protection Jammer and Targeting Pod being attached, the MK-2 can carry more weapons than the MK-1. The MK-2 will be powered by the GE F414-INS6 engine, with maximum thrust of 98 Kn. Ferry range is increased to 3,500 km, a limit of -3.2 to 9 and MAX speed Increased to Mach 1.8. According to reports, ADA will unveil the MK-2 in 2022, the first flight to be conducted by 2023, entry into production by 2025-2026. However according to some other sources, “this is a very ambitious time line.”

Source & Courtesy: LiveFist, DDR & Onmanorama