The most eye-catching change is the addition of canards to Medium Weight Fighter (MWF) design

With the Indian Air Force’s (IAF’s) MMRCA program getting serially delayed and recast more than once, there was a feeling in various quarters that the Tejas Mk2 design should perhaps evolve further than what was initially envisaged to provide an indigenous option for the IAF’s requirements. IAF, in its assessment of vulnerabilities after the retaliatory attack by Pakistan post-Balakot airstrikes in February wants to fast track the development of both the Tejas and Medium Weight Fighter (earlier nomenclature Mk2), thus, the IAF and the Aeronautical Development Agency (ADA) sat down to redefine the Tejas-Mk2 with more elaborate modifications such that it could function as a medium weight fighter for ground attack roles while continuing to be nimble in the air to air (A2A) role. In fact, the version of the Tejas Mk2 currently envisaged has been rebadged as the Medium Weight Fighter or (MWF) and is being designed as a replacement for the Mirage-2000 with a view to surpassing its capabilities in almost every respect writes Indranil Roy & Nilesh Rane in IDR.

Hindustan Aeronautics Ltd (HAL) will deliver 16 TEJAS fighters in the final operational clearance (FOC) configuration to the Indian Air Force (IAF) by the end of this year, said HAL chairman R Madhavan. He added that 16 TEJASs have been delivered in the Initial Operation Clearance (IOC) configuration already. An additional eight are being produced as trainers reports Neelam Mathews for AINOnline.

The TEJAS received its FOC  during the Aero India show in Bangalore, for induction into the Indian Air Force as a fully weaponized fighter. Following the major Vayu Shakti Air Force exercise in February, the Chief of the IAF, Air Marshal B.S. Dhanoa, reported, “It is a fighter jet and behaved like a fighter. It did well both in air-to-air combat, as well as air-to-ground combat.” 

HAL has been waiting for the past six months to receive an order from the IAF for 83 Tejas Mk1As to enable it to expand its production capacity. The version will have line-replaceable units (LRU) for ease of maintenance, and enhancements that include an Elbit radar and Cobham probe for in-flight refuelling. The number of single-seaters and two-seater trainers has not yet been specified. It will take three years for the first flight from the time of signing the contract, Madhavan said. While HAL’s technical bids have been evaluated, the commercial bids have yet to be opened. Following a price negotiation, a formal contract will be signed with HAL. Madhavan noted that with HAL now involved only in integration, and production of components out-sourced to private companies, it was likely that production would speed up the in future. 

Specification LCA MK1 LCA Mk2
Length 13.2 m 14.65 m
Height 4.4 m 4.86 m
Wingspan 8.2 m 8.5 m
Wing Area 38.4 m2 38.4 m2
Empty weight 7040 kg 7000 kg
Take-off Clean Weight 10,300 kg 11,000* kg
Internal Fuel 2,400 kg 3,300 kg
Hard points 7 + 1 11
Max Take Off Weight 13,500 kg 17,500 kg
Max payload capacity 3,910 kg 6500 kg
Engine F404-IN20 F414-INS6
Max Thrust 84kN 98kN
Max Speed 1.6M 1.8M
G limits +8/-3.5 +9/-3.2
Ferry Range 1,750 km 3,500* km
(* estimated numbers)

Madhavan said that after MK1A, HAL would fast track the MWF fighter production…which in the long term would replace the Jaguar, the Mirage, and MiG-29s,” said Dhanoa. The Mk2—a medium-weight fighter version of the supersonic Tejas with a maximum all-up weight of 17.5 tonnes, a delta wing, and close-coupled canard, and a payload of 6.5 tonnes—will be powered by a General Electric F414 engine with advanced digital control. It will have an advanced sensor suite and be capable of firing beyond-visual-range (BVR) air-to-air missiles beyond 100 km (62 miles). The addition of an infrared search and track system will allow the fighter to track aircraft through their heat signature.

Based on the IAF TEJAS, the naval version of Mk2 will require an increased-thrust engine, reduced weight, an increased wing area, and a tailhook. “We have to move on towards a twin-engined deck-based CATOBAR [Catapult assisted take-off but arrested recovery] fighter.” he added.

Beyond the TEJAS program, the Advanced Medium Combat Aircraft (AMCA) is India’s fifth-generation fighter planned for production once the Mk2 design is frozen. It is said to be designed for swing role, with BVR and close-combat capability, and precision strike. Madhavan said that a manufacturing partner would be sought for the AMCA program. (With reporting by IDR, AIN Online, and IHS Jane)