While TEJAS MK-1 has been envisioned for combat air patrol within the Indian territory, TEJAS MK-2 will have the capacity to conduct Balakot-like surgical strikes deep inside enemy territory just as Mirage-2000

New Delhi: Prime Minister Narendra Modi-led Cabinet Committee on Security (CCS) has cleared the TEJAS MK-2 project, to be completed at a cost of over Rs 10,000 crore. The LCA (Light Combat Aircraft) TEJAS MK-2 would be replacing the aging fleets of fighters, such as the legendary Mirage-2000s used in the Balakot strikes, Jaguars and MiG-29s of the Indian Air Force (IAF).

The TEJAS MK-2 would be twice as powerful as the TEJAS MK-1, since it gets a new powerplant—GE-414 engines—as compared to TEJAS MK-1’s GE-404 engines, imparting it with double the range than its predecessor.

Moreover, TEJAS MK-2 has been designed to carry out operations such as Balakot strikes, deep within enemy territory and this is also what differentiates it from TEJAS MK-1.

“While TEJAS MK I is for combat air patrol within the Indian territory, MK-2 will have the capacity to conduct Balakot-like surgical strikes in enemy territory as it will carry heavy standoff weapons like Crystal Maze and Spice missiles,” Girish Deodhare, Program Director (Combat Aircraft), Aeronautical Development Agency (ADA), had said earlier.

In retaliation to the dastardly Pulwama terror attack, India had bombed a Jaish-e-Mohammed (JeM) terror training camp at Jabba Top in Balakot, Manshera, deep inside Pakistan on February 26, 2019. The mission was carried out using a package of IAF’s Mirage 2000 aircraft.

“TEJAS MK-2 fighter aircraft development project was cleared by govt. This would pave way for designers to develop an advanced 17.5-tonne single-engine aircraft. Development of new aircraft to be completed by 2027,” Deodhare said on Wednesday.

Deodhare had also explained in the past that indigenous TEJAS MK-2 fighter jets would have the capacity to conduct Balakot strike kind of operations as it would be equipped with beyond-visual-range missiles that have greater reach and virtually jam-proof AESA radars in order to be suitable replacements for the Indian Air Force (IAF)’s aging Mirage-2000 fighters.

The new jet will carry Astra-II BVR air-to-air missiles with a range of at least 150 km.

The IAF chief too hailed the CCS decision on Thursday. “TEJAS MK-2 will fill a critical capability void. Therefore, it’s essential that all stakeholders should need to work in tandem to ensure the timely induction of this aircraft into IAF,” IAF chief Air Chief Marshal VR Chaudhari said.

“In the view of rapidly depleting strength of fighter squadrons of IAF & phasing out of the MiG-21 aircraft in coming years, it’s essential that laid down timelines for the projects are adhered to,” Chaudhari added.

“This decision will give a tremendous boost to the indigenous design &development of our next-gen fighter aircraft. It’ll further ‘Atmanirbhar Bharat’ initiative in domain of aircraft manufacturing,” the IAF chief said, hailing the decision.