- The final eight twin-seater trainers will be given to the air force in the coming months.
- The Mk-2 fighter will be the most advanced version of the LCA that was created and built in the country where it was made.
The Indian Air Force is looking into the chance of ordering more versions of its own light combat aircraft Mk-1A to improve its fighting power. Two years ago, it signed a 48,000-crore contract for 83 of these fighter jets. On Thursday, officials with knowledge of the situation said that the Indian Air Force is considering ordering more versions of the Mk-1A.
Officials who asked not to be named said that plans are in the works to place a second order for 90 to 100 more LCA Mk-1 fighter jets. If the order goes through, it will give the Atmanirbhar Bharat (Self-Reliant India) movement a big boost.
With the signing of the contract for the 83 Mk-1A jets in February 2021, a total of 123 LCA variants had been bought. The IAF has already bought 40 LCA Mk-1s. These planes come in two different configurations: initial operational clearance (IOC) and the more advanced final operational clearance (FOC). The LCA Mk-1A will be better than the other versions in a lot of ways, making it the most improved version of the LCA so far.
Air Chief Marshal VR Chaudhari, who is in charge of the IAF, looked over the LCA program on Tuesday. The Mk-1A version will be delivered early next year. During the review, he said that the LCA was the IAF’s best example of its attempts to build its own planes.
The IAF will get its first Mk-1A plane in February 2024, and the rest will join the IAF’s battle fleet by 2029. The LCA Mk-1A planes are likely to be sent to forward sites.
The Mk-1A will have digital radar warning sensors, external self-protection jammer pods, a better radar, advanced beyond-visual-range (BVR) missiles, and much easier maintenance. The fighter is expected to have more than 60% of its own parts, compared to 50% in the current versions.
The air force has received 32 of the original 40 LCA Mk1 planes. The final eight twin-seater trainers will be given to the air force in the coming months.
The IAF made its first LCA squadron with two planes in July 2016, even though the project was approved in 1983 to replace the MiG-21 fleet, which was made in the Soviet Union.
Last year, the government gave the go-ahead for the LCA Mk-2, the next-generation version of the plane, and gave the project 10,000 crore. The Mk-2 fighter will be the most advanced version of the LCA that was created and built in the country where it was made. It will have a GE-414 engine that is more powerful, a better radar, better avionics and technology, and it will be able to carry more weapons. Officials said that the IAF could buy more than 100 LCA-Mk-2 planes.