Indian authorities have announced that the first prototype of the Tejas Mk1A, which is actually the planned mass-production version of the Tejas and the basis for all others, has secretly made its maiden flight. The Indian Ministry of Defense reported that Hindustan Aeronautics Limited [HAL] conducted the test flight in an area near their production facility.
HAL first upgraded the aircraft with serial production number SP-25 to Mk1A level which was at the level of Tejas Mk1. The SP-25 will act as a test platform for the entire production line of the Mk1A version and will undergo certification tests over the next 30 months.
After completion of tests, deliveries of the Tejas Mk1A will begin from March 2024. The delivery of 83 aircraft ordered for the Indian Air Force is scheduled to be completed in 2029.
Tejas Mk1A is the best-developed version of Tejas Mk1 which reached full operational capability [FOC] in 2020. Mk1A is equipped with Israeli Elta EL/M-2052 AESA radar or Indian Uttam AESA radar, a self-defense system, radar receiver warning, and an external muting unit. The Mk1A will have a lower weight compared to the Mk1. One of the most important changes made compared to the Mk1 is that the Indian-made Astra 1 and Astra 2 Resight Air-Air Missiles [AAM] will be used in the Mk1A. Currently, only Mk1 FOCs can fire Derby Oversight Air-Air Missiles.
The export potential of Tejas
India takes major steps in exporting Tejas aircraft. India’s largest export customer is expected to be Egypt. According to Indian sources, India has recently submitted a proposal to Egypt to open a mass production facility for Dhruv and LCH helicopters in Egypt, along with Tejas Mk1A aircraft.
In line with this offer, the Egyptian authorities are expected to visit HAL’s facilities soon. Egyptian authorities announced plans to purchase 70 Tejas Mk1A aircraft at the 2021 Dubai Airshow.
The Tejas is also competing with the TAI-developed HURJET [Turkey] in the Malaysian LIFT/LCA tender. India, which is offering Tejas Mk1A aircraft to Malaysia, allows Malaysia only “depot-level support”. However, Malaysia wants the 18 light attack aircraft to be manufactured with at least 30% Malaysian parts.
Source: Bulgarian Military