With the first production series LCA Tejas Mk.1 handed over to the IAF, and with more in the pipeline this year for squadron service first in Bengaluru and then Sulur in Tamil Nadu, this year’s Aero India will fix the spotlight on the LCA Mk.2.
With final operational clearance on the LCA Mk.1 for the Indian Air Force slated for the end of this year, and with the LCA Navy Mk.1 beginning its carrier compatbility trials successfully, the two Mk.1 programmes are effectively making progress in their final stages of development, clearing space now for attention to the LCA Mk.2, the platform that both the IAF and Indian Navy are looking forward to very keenly.
The proposed platform, powered by the more powerful GE F414 turbofan (a deal that’s finalised but yet to be signed), will be the true replacement of the MiG-21. It will be a more capable aircraft in every way, as first revealed at Aero India 2011. This year at the show in Bengaluru, there will be wide interest in the proposed platform. The Indian Air Force, sources say, has been putting custom pressure on the programme team to commit to better capabilities and timelines, and will be looking to see certain specifics announced or pledged at Aero India.
Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar, who visited ADA earlier this month, is said to have expressed the need for far greater indigenous content on the LCA, maintaining that the current 60% level would be unacceptable on the LCA Mk.2. He was assured that project management and development sub-systems meant that the indigenous content percentage on the Mk.2 would be significantly higher from the start.