Looking ahead, the prototype of the HAL Twin Engine Deck Based Fighter (TEDBF) is slated to be ready by 2026, with production commencing by 2032. The Naval TEJAS serves as a crucial technology demonstrator, paving the way for the TEDBF and underlining India's commitment to advancing niche technologies for deck-based fighter operations.

Vikrant's recent upgrades showcase India's dedication to advancing its naval capabilities. With the integration of advanced radar and missiles, the aircraft carrier solidifies its role as a cornerstone in safeguarding the nation's maritime interests. The journey, from conceptualizing advanced fighters to the selection of the Rafale-M, reflects India's strategic foresight in building a formidable naval air wing.

Evolution of Naval Aviation Capabilities

The journey of INS Vikrant's air wing reflects a meticulous consideration of various aircraft options. The initial contemplation included the MiG-29K and LCA Navy, with subsequent studies leading to the conceptualization of the HAL TEDBF, unveiled at the 2021 Aero India Air Show.

In 2012, discussions leaned towards the potential acquisition of Dassault Rafale-M (Naval Variant), emphasizing India's pursuit of advanced naval fighters. The subsequent years saw a series of evaluations and trials, including the testing of TEJAS, MiG-29K, and even the Boeing F/A-18E/F Super Hornet.

The final decision, announced on July 15, 2023, revealed India's selection of the Rafale M, aligning with the nation's logistics system. Prime Minister Narendra Modi, during his Bastille Day parade visit to France on July 14, 2023, played a key role in announcing the acquisition of 24 to 30 Rafale fighter jets.