Cabinet Committee on Security approves Tejas 2.0 mega project | India News

NEW DELHI: Building on the success of the Tejas light combat aircraft, India on Wednesday approved the development of a much more capable and powerful version of the indigenous jet, which will be followed by another mega project for an ambitious fifth-generation stealth fighter.
The PM Modi-led Cabinet Committee on Security (CCS) cleared the project to develop Tejas Mark-2 with prototypes, flight testing and certification at a cost of over Rs 6,500 crore, in addition to the Rs 2,500 crore earlier sanctioned for it, top sources told TOI.
The CCS clearance for the over Rs 15,000 crore project to build the fifth-generation advanced medium combat aircraft (AMCA), with stealth features as well as ‘supercruise’ capabilities, in turn, “will follow within the next few months”, sources added.
With more powerful GE-414engines in the 98 Kilonewton thrust class, the Tejas Mark-2 will have a longer combat range and greater capacity to carry weapons than the existing Tejas Mark-1 (GE-404 engines).
While the long-delayed Tejas Mark-1 (13.5 tonne weight) was designed to replace obsolete MiG-21s, the Mark-2 variant (17.5 tonne) will succeed fighters like the Mirage-2000s, Jaguars and MiG-29s in the IAF’s combat fleet.
“Lightweight Tejas Mark-1 is primarily meant for air defence. Medium-weight Mark-2 fighter, with its heavy standoff weapons, will be for offensive operations into enemy territory. Its critical design review is complete,” a source said.
IAF has so far inducted about 30 of the 123 Tejas jets ordered earlier from Hindustan Aeronautics, with the last Rs 46,898 crore contract for 73 improved Mark-1A fighters and 10 trainers being inked in February 2021 for delivery in the 2024-2028 timeframe.
As for Tejas Mark-2, DRDO and Aeronautical Development Agency aim to conduct its first flight in two to three years, with the production beginning by around 2030.
“Fly-by-wire, avionics, composites and other technologies have already been proven in Tejas Mark-1. The new project will upscale those into a bigger and more powerful fighter. IAF is likely to induct at least six squadrons (110-120) of Tejas Mark-2,” a source said.
Tejas jets are desperately required by IAF to bolster the number of its fighter squadrons, which is down to just 32 when at least 42 are required for the “collusive threat” from China and Pakistan. The 25-tonne AMCA will be an entirely different advanced stealth fighter.
Development and production of fifth-generation jets is complex and expensive, with the American F/A-22 Raptor and F-35 Lightning-II Joint Strike Fighter, the Chinese Chengdu J-20 and Russian Sukhoi-57 being the only operational ones at present.

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