The HAL Tejas Mark II, fitted with heavier GE 414 engine will roll out in 2022 will take to the skies in 2023. The Tejas Mark II is expected to join the Indian Air Force by 2026 with the capability of striking deep into enemy territory just like Mirage 2000s.
The indigenous built Tejas Mark II fighter jet will have the capacity to conduct operations such as the one the Indian Air Force undertook in Balakot and will replace the ageing Mirage 2000 fighters according to Program Director (Combat Aircraft), Aeronautical Development Agency Girish Deodhare.
On February 26, 2019, IAF’s Mirage 2000 entered a Jaish-e-Mohammed (JeM) terror camp in Balakot in Pakistani territory as retaliation for the terror group’s suicide attack on a CRPF convoy in Pulwama, Jammu & Kashmir.
The Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL) Tejas Mark 2 is a single-engine multirole fighter designed by Aeronautical Development Agency (ADA) and HAL. The plane has tailless compound delta-wing configuration with high manoeuvrability.
The Mark II, fitted with heavier GE 414 engine, will roll out in 2022, take to the skies in 2023 and join IAF by 2026. The Tejas MK II is a 4.5 generation aircraft.
Program Director Deodhare said that the MK II will have double the range of its predecessor MK I and will be fitted with Astra II BVR air-to-air missiles with a range of at least 150 km.
“While Tejas MK I is for combat air patrol within the Indian territory, MK II will have the capacity to conduct Balakot-like surgical strikes in enemy territory as it will carry heavy standoff weapons like Crystal Maze and Spice missiles,” added Deodhare.
While work on MK II is proceeding as per schedule, ADA and Indian Air Force (IAF) sealed a deal for twin-engine advanced medium combat aircraft (AMCA) in the next three months. Earlier, IAF gave a written commitment to DRDO that it would buy the fifth-generation AMCA to strengthen its strike capabilities. AMCA is expected to roll out in 2024 and take to the skies the following year.
According to Deodhare, Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL) will produce 16 FOC 9Final Operational Clearance) Tejas plus eight trainers before the reverse integration of IAF’s Tejas in the initial configuration is taken up.
“HAL has done a commendable job to produce a FOC Tejas within a year of the design being frozen. This will help up in faster development of MK II as this only involves in upscaling of the existing platform with superior armaments, radar and avionics,” he said.
For the MK II, ADA in collaboration with its parent DRDO is developing the indigenous active electronically scanned array (AESA) radar, which is not only difficult to detect but also has a high resistance to jamming by the enemy during an engagement.
The Tejas Mark II would incorporate the new features of the Mark 1A as well as a new glass cockpit with an eight-by-twelve-inch multifunction display and an onboard oxygen system that collects air from the outside, removing the need for oxygen bottles.
According to secondary research by EurAsian Times and quoting open sources – Tejas Mark II will be equipped with a multi-sensor data fusion system which will feature an active electronically scanned array radar, infrared search and track and a missile approach warning system.
The fighter jet will also comprise of an internalized electronic warfare suite. The aircraft will be designed to have network-centric warfare capacity and will be equipped with artificial intelligence-based “optimally manned” cockpit.
The cockpit will be designed such that the ground control would be able to take over the controls of the aircraft in case the pilot becomes unconscious, after being alerted by a sensor in the helmet of the pilot.