India is redesignating the Mark-2 upgrade of the homegrown Tejas aircraft as a Medium Weight fighter with increased weight and weapon carrying capacity. It is also designing the plane to replace the Mirage-2000 fleet of the Indian Air Force.
Aeronautical Development Agency, the design agency of the indigenous fighter aircraft programme, has finalised the systems and is looking to freeze the design of the medium weight fighter in a couple of months, a top scientist told ET. It is expected to have a maximum take off weight of 17.5 tonnes with an improvement of over 85% in weapons and payload carrying capacity to that of Tejas Mk-1 version .
Tejas Mk-1 , powered by a single GE-404 engine, is a fly-by-wire fighter that has delta wings and no tail. Fly-by-wire technology enables a pilot to control the plane electronically through computers. It has a maximum take off weight of 13.5 tonnes.
“The Tejas Mk-1 was designed to replace the MiG-21 aircraft, whereas the Mk-2 is being designed to replace the Mirage 2000,” Dr Girish Deodhar, programme director of ADA told ET. “It is being redesignated as a medium weight fighter.”
India bought Mirage 2000 planes from Dassault Aviation of France in the 1980s. In 2011, Hindustan Aeronautics signed a pact with Thales and Dassault to upgrade the Mirage-2000 with new avionics, radar and weapons. Dassault has shut its Mirage plant since then.
The Tejas Mk-1 is currently in Active service with Indian Air Force No.45 ‘Flying Daggers’ squadron . The IAF has placed order of 40 Tejas Mk-1 & 83 Mk-1A which will have the GE-404 engines , while the more powerful GE-414 will power the upcoming Mk-2 version of Tejas .
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