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LCA Tejas aircraft capability to be enhanced

In the face of the Air Force raising questions about the capability of the Light Combat Aircraft (LCA) Tejas, the government is now aiming to install capability enhancements and speed up the rate of production.

“The production of Tejas Mk-1A will begin in 2019. Most of the 43 improvements have already been made and the tender process to install an Advanced Electronically Scanned Array (AESA) radar and Self-Protection Jammer is under way. A refuelling probe would also be added to increase range,” a source said.

While the design cannot be changed and endurance improved as it is powered by the GE-404 engine, the enhancements will increase the capability of the aircraft, the source said. The IAF had told the government that Tejas did not meet its requirements. IAF was in the process of issuing a tender for the procurement of 100 jets through the Strategic partnership mode, for which the contenders were Lockheed F-16 and SAAB Gripen. Lockheed had tied up with Tata group and SAAB with the Adani group to build them locally if selected.

Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL) was undertaking the enhancements and was in the process of setting up another assembly line at a cost of ₹130 crore to increase production rate from the present eight to 16. The second line would be ready by 2019 when Mk-1A began production, the source stated.

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