The Indian Air Force has always wanted to make the Tesjas Mk2 the star of the force, but it is not easy
India’s Tejas project was born to develop a light fighter, to become a worthy rival to the famous American F-16, and also the most modern fighter at that time of rival Pakistan. The first version of Tejas was Mk1. It can be described as a failure of the Indian aviation industry. It has 33 years of development, but still not enough to guarantee that the Tejas Mk1 will be a replacement for the old Soviet MiG-21. India invested considerable financial resources, but the result was a fighter with poor performance and lack of thrust. However, the Indian Navy still needs light aircraft with short take-off from carriers.
New Delhi has not given up on its “unfinished” light fighter ambitions. Therefore, the Tejas Mk2 multi-role fighter version of has been born since 2009, and it has a great chance of being mass-produced. So far, the Indian government has invested nearly half a billion USD in the project.
The Tejas Mk2 version will use the General Electric F414 afterburning turbofan engine, providing up to 98 kN thrust with afterburner, twice as much as the engine of the Mk1 version. Thus, the “hope of India” will have to fly with the “American heart”. Tests on General Electric engines have been ongoing since 2017. If the deal is completed, General Electric will supply nearly 100 F414 engines to India, worth about half a billion dollars. The American engine will make the Mk2 more efficient and increase the load capacity of the Mk2 by 25% compared to the Mk1.
General Electric is likely to play an important role in the development of the Indian aviation industry. According to India’s requirement, at least 60% of F414 engines must be built in India, and General Electric is ready to meet this requirement. This is an opportunity for Indian military engineers to access important technologies to develop the domestic Kaveri engine. Kaveri is expected to be the engine of the next generation of Indian fighters in the future.
Tejas Mk2 will also use some Israeli avionics technology. According to preliminary information, Israel will provide radar for the Tejas Mk2. Israel is also ready to provide its new developments in the field of electronic jamming and electronic warfare systems. New avionics are expected to include active electronically scanned array radar (AESA), an all-glass cockpit, wide multi-function displays, and an integrated oxygen delivery system. But these improvements, will lengthen the fuselage by 1 meter compared to the MK1.
So far, India’s HAL is facing serious difficulty in terms of production schedule. According to the plan, the company will produce 16 fighters per year, but capacity allows only 8. Perhaps this is the reason why HAL is planning to build one more production line. India is expected to order about 120-130 Tejas Mk2 fighters, for both navy and air force. According to unofficial information, if the Indian army is satisfied with the Mk2, another order of 300 fighters will be fulfilled.
Clearly, Tejas Mk2 is India’s hope. The Indian government has invested so much money and time in this project, and if it fails, it will be too much of a sadness. Furthermore, the companies involved in the project may go bankrupt. Tejas Mk2 clearly has a perfect and foreseeable future.