India’s LCA TEJAS MK-1A to soar as first batch nears delivery, bolstering national defense

The upcoming delivery of the Light Combat Aircraft TEJAS MK-1A, which would improve air force capabilities, is a step forward for India’s defence industry. The modern TEJAS MK-2 is the focus for a tactical military advance.

The construction of Light Combat Aircraft (LCA) TEJAS MK-1A is on track, revealing that the first of the 83 ordered planes is likely to be ready for delivery next month. This is an important step towards reinforcing India’s domestic defence capabilities. The MK-1A will strengthen the Air Force’s fighter aircraft force due to its advanced radars, electronic warfare systems, and mid-air refuelling capabilities.

At least four MK-1A planes are expected to be delivered by August of this year as a result of ongoing efforts to expedite production and delivery. Authorities have taken action to reduce any possible output gaps because certain delays in engine deliveries could affect the production timetable.

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Deliveries of MK-1A are intentionally coordinated with the overarching strategy to free up production capacity for the TEJAS MK-2, the following edition. This more powerful 17.5-ton single-engine aircraft is powered by the GE-F414 engine, which is produced in India under a technology transfer arrangement. It was developed jointly by Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL), the Indian Air Force, and the Indian Navy.

The first aircraft deployment for the TEJAS MK-2 programme appears to have been slightly delayed, with a new target date of late 2026 or early 2027. Officials are nevertheless optimistic that the programme will finish development by 2027, despite this. With its improved endurance and range, onboard oxygen generation system, and capacity to carry powerful stand-off weapons, the MK-2 is anticipated to be a game-changer.

Strategically, the MK-1A deliveries are part of a larger plan to free up production capacity for the TEJAS MK-2, the next version. The GE-F414 engine, which is built in India under a technology transfer agreement, powers this  17.5-ton single-engine aircraft, which was developed jointly by Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL), the Indian Air Force, and the Indian Navy.

The TEJAS MK-2 programme appears to have reversed course recently, with the initial aircraft rollout now scheduled for late 2026 or early 2027. Despite this, officials are still optimistic that the programme would finish development by 2027. The MK-2 is anticipated to revolutionise the military with its improved endurance and range, onboard oxygen generation system, and capacity to carry powerful standoff weapons.

With a targeted rollout by 2024 and completion of flight testing by 2027, the TEJAS MK-2 project has received approval from the Cabinet Committee on Security (CCS) at a total development cost of ₹9,000 crore. The strategic significance of this cutting-edge fighter jet is evidenced by the Indian Air Force’s commitment to acquiring six squadrons of the MK-2.

The TEJAS MK-2 boasts several design advancements over the MK-1A, such as a longer frame measuring 1350 mm, canards for increased stability, and a larger payload capacity of 6,500 kg as opposed to 3,500 kg. The MK-2, also intended to be utilised in the Advanced Medium Combat Aircraft (AMCA), will be powered by the General Electric GE-414 engine, which has 98kN of thrust.

The TEJAS MK-1 is still in service, with one squadron operating under Initial Operational Clearance (IOC) and another under Final Operational Clearance (FOC). However, India’s commitment to developing its own fighter aircraft capabilities is demonstrated by the MK-1A deliveries and MK-2 development.

The orders for 83 TEJAS MK-1A are anticipated to be fulfilled by 2028–2029 with HAL setting up a second assembly line to boost production from eight to sixteen aircraft annually. Furthermore, India’s aggressive pursuit of cutting-edge defence technologies is shown in the Advanced Medium Combat Aircraft (AMCA) plan, an indigenous fifth-generation fighter currently undergoing CCS review.