As per a recent report by Janes Intel, India’s Tejas MkII program has hit a roadblock despite receiving clearance from the Indian Ministry of Defense’s (MOD) Cabinet Committee on Security (CCS). This is because one of the conditions set by the MOD was that GE would have to provide a transfer of technology (ToT) for its GE F414 engine to the program, after which the funds would be released.
LCA Tejas Mark 2 is constrained by problems with engine choices. The government is delaying the release of funds for prototype development. The GE response to the TOT condition is anticipated by the HAL project team. But unfortunately, no interest has been shown in it by the United States.
This delay in the release of funds, which has now stretched beyond a year, could have significant repercussions for the program’s timeline. The program is now facing the possibility of further delays in the rollout of the prototype and the first flight.
Given the complexity of modern fighter aircraft, engine technology is a crucial element that cannot be compromised. Therefore, it is crucial for the Indian MOD to provide the necessary funds for the program, so that the ToT can be obtained from GE, and the Tejas MkII can progress as planned. The success of this program is essential for India’s defense preparedness and technological advancements in the field of aerospace.
HAL plans to roll out a prototype by September 2025, exactly 36 months from the CCS clearance, and the first flight is scheduled for 2026.
There are plans for three additional prototypes of the LCA Mk-2 fighter, which will be rolled out with an eight-month gap between each. The project team announced that four prototypes would be used for complete flight testing and weapon testing, with testing concluding by the end of 2027 so that production could begin in 2028.
However, according to sources familiar with recent developments, the timeline for the LCA Mk2 aircraft entering production is likely to be pushed further to 2030 onwards. Two years is too short of a duration to complete both flight testing and weapon testing, as the first two years may be required solely to obtain initial flight certification for the aircraft. Even with basic weapons clearance, weapon testing will take two or more years.
The Indian Air Force (IAF) is aware of unrealistic production timelines often given by ADA/DRDO officials. Consequently, the IAF is considering purchasing 50 more Tejas Mk1A aircraft that will extend the production line until at least 2030.
The IAF has identified the LCA Mk2 as a crucial component that will eventually fill a critical gap in the fighter squadrons of the Indian Air Force as the MiG-29, Mirage 2000, and Jaguar fleets retire over the next decade.