Heavyweight Tejas

Model of a Tejas LCA carrying a Brahmos cruise missile. (David Oliver)

David Oliver – During Aero India the Tejas Light Attack Aircraft (LCA) was pronounced combat ready and its manufacturer, Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL), also revealed a model of the latest variant of the Indian Air Force’s (IAF) single-engine multirole fighter, the Tejas Mk2.

Slightly larger that the Tejas Mk1, 40 of which are entering IAF service, the Tejas Mk2 will feature shoulder-mounted canards and an increased weight and payload, and designated as the Tejas Medium Weight Fighter (MWF). It will be powered by a General Electric GE-F414-INS6 engine with a Full Authority Digital Electronics Control (FADEC) system. Additional features will include an internal infrared search-and-track (IRST) sensor, a missile approach warning system (MAWS), and an active electronically scanned array (AESA) radar.

Tejas Mk1s were prominent exhibits both in the static park, one of which was fitted with a AESA radar developed by India’s Electronics and Radar Development Establishment (LRDE) in place of the current Israeli ELTA EL/M-2032 and several models were shown with the Tejas armed with wingtip mounted ASRAAMs and Brahmos cruise missile, neither of which have yet been integrated on the LCA.

HAL chairman R Madhavan said that first flight of the upgraded Mk1A will include an EL/M-2052 AESA radar being developed jointly by Elta and HAL, an air-to-air refuelling capability and an EL/L-8222 ECM pod. This will happen in 2022 and it is expected to enter production by 2023. He confirmed that the IAF and HAL are still discussing procurement of 83 Tejas Mk1A which is likely to be cleared by end of this year. Madhaven also said that HAL was looking to export the aircraft and that the Tejas would be taking part in other international air shows in the future.

The development of twin and single-seat carrier-capable variants of the Tejas Mk2 for the Indian Navy is still not confirmed.

by David Oliver