“Modifications will be required. There is much work ahead. Development projects do indeed take time, but it is imperative that there are no further delays in the program. A lot of effort has been invested in it, including from the IAF. It needs to be ready for operations soon,” Browne said.
The IAF has ordered 48 Tejas fighters so far, and indicated a higher level of interest in the proposed Mk.2 version of the aircraft. It will be powered by an F414 turbofan and feature so-far unspecified aerodynamic improvements, an upgraded digital flight control computer, a unified electronic warfare suite, upgraded avionics, an onboard oxygen generation system, increased fuel capacity, a midair refueling probe and increased survivability. The Aeronautical Development Agency has begun building a wind-tunnel model and full-scale mock-up of the aircraft.
The naval variant of Tejas, which features a drooped nose, strengthened undercarriage and tailhook for arrested landings, remains on the ground after just four flights last year. Program sources indicate the platform's landing gear is undergoing a partial redesign through a consultancy with EADS, which is also helping execute the test program. Once ready to get back to flight test, the LCA-N, as it is designated, will resume testing at India's brand-new, shore-based test facility in Goa, where the navy has built a ski jump and arrester deck to practice carrier landings.