Rs 26,000 crore order for Tejas Mark 1A imminent, will open door for Mark 2 to fly by 2023 - Broadsword by Ajai Shukla - Strategy. Economics. Defence.

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Sunday 15 December 2019

Rs 26,000 crore order for Tejas Mark 1A imminent, will open door for Mark 2 to fly by 2023

Tejas Mark 2 to be beefed up from "light combat aircraft" to medium fighter

By Ajai Shukla
Business Standard, 16th Dec 19

After months of negotiations, the Indian Air Force (IAF) and Hindustan Aeronautics Ltd (HAL) have fixed the price of the Tejas Mark 1A light combat aircraft (LCA) at about Rs 310 crore per fighter, say ministry of defence (MoD) sources involved in the negotiations. 

Now HAL is awaiting a formal contract, worth some Rs 26,000 crore for building 83 Tejas Mark 1A fighters that the MoD has already green-lighted for purchase. According to the agreed schedule, delivery of the Mark 1A will begin 36 months after the contract date. If the order is placed at the start of 2020, Tejas Mark IA deliveries will start in 2023.

With 16 fighters to be delivered each year it would take another five years to deliver all 83 fighters – that is by 2028.

“We should be signing the contract very soon”, IAF boss, Air Chief Marshal RKS Bhadauria, had said on October 4. That is now imminent.

Girish Deodhare, chief of the Aeronautical Development Agency (ADA) – the Defence R&D Organisation agency responsible for the Tejas programme – spoke exclusively to Business Standard about the Tejas Mark 1A fighter. He described it as a bridge between the current Tejas Mark 1 and the Mark 2 fighter that ADA is developing. He says the latter will be, from the standpoint of size, sophistication and capability, far superior to the Mark 1 fighter.

While the Mark 1A light fighter will have the same fuselage and General Electric (GE) F-404 engine as the Mark 1, the Mark 2 will be a significantly larger medium fighter with the more powerful GE F-414 engine.

“Initially the Tejas Mark 2 was planned to be just a re-engined Mark 1 (with a more powerful engine). However, with the advent of the Mark 1A, it was decided that Tejas Mark 2 would be configured with significantly higher capabilities. While the ‘all up weight’ (maximum take-off weight, with fuel and weapons) of Tejas Mark 1 is 13.5 tonnes, the Mark 2 will be 17.5 tonnes, taking it into the medium weight category. It will also carry an 85 per cent higher weapons load,” said Deodhare.

While ADA is developing the Mark 2 fighter, HAL is building the Mark 1A, with ADA contributing its expertise in avionics, flight controls, aerodynamics and structural analysis.

While the Tejas Mark 2 will be almost a generation ahead of the Mark 1 fighter, even the interim Tejas Mark 1A will be far more capable. The IAF has demanded five new capabilities in the Mark 1A, including “active electronic scanned array” (AESA) radar, with multi-tasking capability that would give it a clear combat edge over Pakistan’s entire fighter fleet, and most of China’s as well.

“The initial batches of the Tejas Mark 1A may field an imported AESA radar, but the DRDO is developing its indigenous Uttam AESA radar. As soon as it is proven, the Uttam will start equipping the Tejas Mark 1A,” said Deodhare.

The Uttam AESA radar is already flying on a Tejas prototype and has completed 11 successful test flights. “We need to do a couple of more years of flight testing before it is certified and ready for production. Thereafter, all Tejas Mark 1A will incorporate the indigenous radar”, he said.

This incremental approach is also evident in the “digital flight control computer” (DFCC) – a fighter aircraft’s brain – that ADA has designed and qualified for the Tejas Mark 2. The upgraded DFCC is ready and qualified, but it could not go into the Mark 1A because it was built bigger to allow easier maintenance access in the larger Mark 2 fighter.

“So we took the upgraded cards from the Tejas Mark 2’s DFCC and installed them into the smaller Mark 1 DFCC chassis, effectively upgrading it for the Mark IA.  The new Mark 1A DFCC will have significantly higher processing power, which allows us to add many more advanced capabilities in the flight control system,” said Deodhare.

In addition, the Tejas Mark IA is being upgraded with a “self-protection jammer” (SPJ), supplied by Elta, which the IAF has demanded in order to confuse incoming missiles. Each Mark 1A fighter will carry a SPJ on a pod under its wing, sharing a mounting station with an air-to-air missile.

Giving the Tejas Mark 2 the contemporary look of the Rafale and Eurofighter, it will be built with canards on the front of the fuselage.  These fin-like structures serve to make the aircraft unstable, and therefore more manoeuvrable. Deodhare says ADA decided to fit canards after discovering that increasing the Mark 2’s internal fuel capacity to 3300 kilogrammes (from 2400 kg in the Mark1) made the fighter excessively stable. Designing canards near the nose of the aircraft regained its manoeuvrability. 

“We are targeting the first flight of the Tejas Mark 2 by 2023. We are confident of this since most of the technologies that will go into it are already matured through LCA Mark 1,” said Deodhare.


(Part 2: To follow the Tejas Mark 2, ADA making headway on Gen-5 fighter)


  1. Is that a photograph of LCA or Mirage 2000 ??

  2. Good but with limited production capabilities how will we overcome the we intend to export to Malaysia...

    1. our plane will not be selected anyway...we should quietly withdraw and it wont be wise to sell malaysia our planes considering recent developments amd their PMs remarks.

  3. The picture shown in the article is of Mirage 2000!!! Kindly change to Tejas picture, in line with the subject of the article.

    1. Read carefully...ZOOM IN


    2. It is not. Mirage 2000 has semi circular air intakes with wings at bottom of the fuselage. Picture is of LCA.

  4. Excellent ! We need to thank our late Raksha Mantri Shri Parrikar for reviving Tejas.

  5. NSR says ---

    Great news for India and IAF … too bad that India has to wait 3 more years for it...

    In the meantime, IAF can order 40 more Tejas I so that it will have about 80 Tejas I with IA mission computer and avionics...

    When Uttam AESA radar becomes available, then Tejas I should get it and it would make its performance similar to Tejas IA... it is a better approach... do not idle HAL production line... let them keep cranking them ...

  6. I feel it is very important to develop the engines as gives autonomy to the project and develop first of all the 25 KN engine and give it better single crystal blade and temperature resistant coating and learn micro drilling technology so as to get around 30-32 KN dry thrust so 45-48 KN thrust can be generated with after burner and use them in jaguar and upgrade at-least 80 planes to have four squadrons of jaguar to bomb. Start with the same model in kaveri as its problem is in the core where linear flow has to be generated and tricking of the size of chamber and blades in hot section as well as rotary injector can yield results. Have a commercial plane from air India leased to DRDO to make its own test bed and start testing the engines. Start using the different engines for commercial planes so as to make the project viable. Design few different sized commercial planes and use those engines. Design Ganga engines and so that you can have a replacement engine for SU 30 and then work on further increasing the thrust. This is a continuous process and would give the desired results. I liked one thing about ISRO that they were bold and experimented with the bold approach and they succeeded after few failures and I feel DRDO has to be bold in its design and try best to have latest computer hardware on the MK 1 A by miniaturizing it so that a plane with cutting edge technology be developed. I am pretty sure that no one would give engine technology and work on it without bothering for failures and success would come soon if enough hard work is put in the project.


  7. Mirage 2000 picture in Tejas article. They are so similar to see and ordinary man can easily

  8. The picture shows a Mirage 2000 and not an LCA

  9. The picture is of a M2000, not a LCA!

  10. Hi Ajai - Once again, the picture of Tejas is still a mirage. :-)
    I recall you had made a similar slip up a few months ago between the Jaguar, Mirage, and Tejas.
    BTW- Love the blog.

  11. Well, the image is a Mirage 2000 not a Tejas. You seem to constantly confuse between the two. Tejas has wing root fixed in the middle of the fuselage, the Mirage as in the picture has a low wing root and as such looks very flat from below.

  12. I've successfully determined that the readership of Broadsword can distinguish between a Mirage 2000 and a Tejas Light Combat Aircraft.


  13. When is part 2 coming out?


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