KK, one of our readers put forward this question. “What are the total number of fighter aircrafts the HAL and ADA working on, presently?”
Now we all have for the past decade especially followed the development and any news which came out of the Tejas program. And now after having gone through the painfully slow but mandatory learning curve, we are looking forward at multiple fighter/combat aircraft solutions coming out. These programs might not all see the end we want, but they are all being pursued at the time I write this. Lets log down all that is:
LCA MK1/1A Tejas: The first 16 aircraft have been delivered in IOC-2 condition. These 16 will later during their overhaul be upgraded to similar specifications like that of Tejas MK1 FOC standards. The next 16 aircraft in FOC standards are under delivery. HAL and ADA are working to resolve the remaining issues like getting the canon certified. Recently Python 5 A2A combat missile was tested from the platform too.
HAL and ADA are also working to develop and certify the Tejas Trainer. There are a total of 18 on order. 4 from the first batch of 20 IOC2 aircraft, another 4 from the FOC batch order and another 10 from the latest order of 83 Tejas. All these 18 aircrafts will be in Tejas MK1 configuration and not MK1A. HAL has a proposal to next develop a LIFT version of the same.
And finally comes the Tejas MK1A. With AESA, a full spectrum Self protection suite, more advanced weapons and easier operations. 73 of them have been ordered. I have collated all the Tejas MK1 variants under development under one umbrella to avoid confusion.
TEJAS MK2 or MWF : The further development of our LCA Tejas, this aircraft is meant to replace Mig29UPG, Mirage 2000I and DARIN 3 Jaguars in the future. HAL and ADA have an ambitious plan to get the first prototype ready by 2023. This aircraft will get a new name after its first flight. This aircraft is supposed to be our IAF what F16 was to USAF. Replacing multiple types with a capable and easier to operate single type.
TEDBF : Intended for the Navy its supposed to replace the Mig29K in our inventory and in future its modifications may even fly from IAC-2. First flight is expected in 2026-27. And it aims to replicate the capabilities of Rafale M and improve upon those to make it capable enough. There are internal proposals from HAL for an IAF variant of this aircraft called ORCA but it is not a sanctioned project yet.
AMCA MK1/MK2: Our own Next generation stealth aircraft development program. The AMCA MK1 prototype could see its first flight as soon as 2023. The MK1 will have some compromises like an imported engine, etc. But this step will accelerate the adoption of 5th gen aircraft in IAF. There are proposals for a naval version of the same, but no sanction as of yet.
Apart from there manned aircrafts, ADA has Ghatak UCAV program in development and Hal has CATS Warrior program. I have avoided mention of programs like Super Sukhoi or Hawk i, as they are designs owned by foreign OEMs.