Indian government gives go-ahead for Tejas Mk 2

India’s Cabinet Committee on Security (CCS) gave approval at a meeting on September 1 for design and development of the Hindustan Aeronautics Ltd (HAL) Tejas Mk 2 4.5-generation, medium-weight supersonic fighter.

The CCS approved INR66.17 billion ($827 million) to fund designing and building prototypes, flight testing and certification. Initially, it is planned to construct four prototypes of the new variant, which will have 70% indigenous content. This compares to 62% in the Mk 1A.

HAL Tejas
One of the original development Tejas, Limited Series Production aircraft No 4, KH-2014 (LSP-04), during flight testing. Approval has now been given for advancement of development of the Mk 2 variant. Indian DPR

Preliminary design studies for the Mk 2 had been completed in 2014 before moving on to the detailed design phase the following year. First metal was cut on a prototype in February 2021 and it was planned for roll-out in August 2022, but this has now been put back to the year-end. Maiden flight is scheduled for late 2023, with limited series production planned for 2025-6, followed by full-scale production from 2030. Development is scheduled for completion in 2027 and the new variant should be in operation service by 2028. However, given the delays regularly encountered in most Indian defence programmes, these timelines seem a little optimistic.

The Mk 2 will have a 98KN thrust GE-414-INS6 engine, providing more power than the current GE-404 powerplant. This will enable carriage of a heavier weapons load, including the BrahMos missile, while the Elta EL/M-2032 multi-mode radar will be replaced by an indigenous active electronically scanned array (AESA) radar. The Indian Air Force (IAF) plans to acquire six squadrons of Tejas Mk 2s, with approximately 18 per squadron, this equates to around 108 aircraft, which will replace several current IAF fighter types. Ultimately, the IAF hopes to also order an additional 210 aircraft.