In a major boost to India’s LCA Tejas Mark II program, the UK has agreed to collaborate on the development of the 4.5 generation fighter jet.
Being developed by the state-owned Hindustan Aeronautics Ltd (HAL), Tejas Mark II is likely to be rolled out next year and its first high-speed trials will start in 2023, HAL chief R Madhavan had said earlier this year.
UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson discussed the matter with his Indian counterpart, Narendra Modi, during a “virtual summit” recently.
The meeting “set out a shared vision for the UK-India defense partnership and agreed to advance the relationship to a new level, with a particular focus on maritime and industrial collaboration,” according to a UK government statement.
The two leaders reaffirmed the benefits of closer cooperation in a free and open Indo-Pacific, recognizing their shared interest in regional prosperity and stability.
They agreed to significant new cooperation on Maritime Domain Awareness, which includes new agreements on maritime information sharing, an invitation to the UK to join India’s Information Fusion Centre in Gurgaon in the National Capital Region, and an ambitious exercise program, which includes joint tri-lateral exercises, the statement said.
The UK Minister for Defense Procurement, Jeremy Quin, said, “We remain committed to close collaboration with India as we both adapt to meet future threats and look to innovate our defense equipment programs and systems.”
Modi and Johnson also “agreed to build on existing government-to-government collaboration on India’s future combat air engine requirement”.
“As part of a ‘2030 Roadmap’, they agreed to work closely together in support of India’s indigenous development of the Light Combat Aircraft Mark 2 (Tejas). They also spoke of the potential for further industrial collaboration in areas like maritime propulsion, space and cyber, marking the start of a promising new era of UK-India research, capability and industrial collaboration on Indian combat air and beyond,” the statement released on May 4 read.
“This agreement builds upon that signed between Hindustan Aeronautics Limited and Rolls Royce to move aspects of the manufacture of the MT30 Gas Turbine engine to India, supporting PM Modi’s Make in India initiative. The MT30 is an engine employed widely in navies around the world and is the basis of the UK’s Integrated Electric Propulsion system that powers the Queen Elizabeth Class Carriers.“
British High Commissioner to India, Alex Ellis, said the UK and India are natural partners in defense and security. “Today’s announcements underline our shared ambition for that partnership, enhancing cooperation, building joint expertise and accelerating industrial cooperation, building up to the arrival of our new aircraft carrier and its accompanying ships to India this autumn.
UK’s Carrier Strike Group 2021 (CSG21) led by HMS Queen Elizabeth will sail to India in the autumn on its maiden operational deployment to the Indo-Pacific region.
HAL Tejas MK II
The Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL) Tejas Mark 2 is a single-engine multirole fighter designed by Aeronautical Development Agency (ADA) and HAL. It has a tailless compound delta-wing configuration with high maneuverability.
As reported by The EurAsian Times, the Mark II, fitted with a heavier GE 414 engine, will roll out in 2022, take to the skies in 2023 and join Indian Air Force by 2026. The Tejas MK II is a 4.5 generation aircraft.
Tejas Mark II is likely to 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, according to experts.