India’s ability to create, develop, and produce innovative cutting-edge technologies and systems in the Defense Sector is steadily increasing under the Atmanirbhar Bharat Abhiyaan. The configuration for the Light Combat Aircraft (LCA)-Mk2 has been frozen, and steel cutting is expected to commence soon, while the configuration for the fifth-generation Advanced Medium Combat Aircraft (AMCA) has been frozen and preliminary design has been completed, said a senior scientist from the Aeronautical Development Agency (ADA).
Girish S. Deodhare, Programme Director (Combat Aircraft) & Director, ADA, at an event by the Centre for Air Power Studies and Society of Indian Defence Manufacturers, said, ‘’The detailed design is complete. In fact, we are in the critical design review stage and metal cutting should start very shortly. The Roll-out of the aircraft (Mk2) is planned for next year and the first flight is in early 2023. We are well on track to achieve these goals.”
Features of the aircraft:
The aircraft has improved range and endurance, as well as an onboard oxygen generation system, which is being incorporated for the first time. The Mk2 will also be equipped with heavy weaponry from the Scalp, Crystal Maze, and Spice-2000. The LCA-Mk2 will be significantly heavier and more capable than the current LCA models.
The Mk2 is 1,350 mm longer and has canards, allowing it to carry a payload of 6,500 kg instead of the LCA’s 3,500 kg.
Impetus to indigenous fighter aircraft capability:
The Defence Ministry in February signed a ₹48,000-crore deal with Hindustan Aeronautics Ltd. (HAL) to supply 83 LCA-Mk1A to the Indian Air Force.
This is the largest contract for indigenous manufacturing to date. This crucial achievement gives the country’s indigenous fighter aircraft capability a huge boost.
All 83 aircraft are expected to be delivered within the next eight years. The first three aircraft will be delivered in the third year, followed by 16 aircraft per year for the next five years.
HAL agreed to a $716 million deal with GE Aviation of the United States in August for 99 F404 aircraft engines and associated services to power the Mk-1A. A more powerful GE-414 engine will power the Mk2. HAL has already put up a second assembly line to increase production from eight to sixteen planes per year. According to Dr. Deodhare, the order for 83 Mk-1A should be completed by 2028-29.
Light Combat Aircraft Mk-1A is an indigenously designed and manufactured state-of-the-art modern 4+ generation fighter aircraft. It is the first “Buy (Indian-Indigenously Designed Developed and Manufactured)” category procurement of combat aircraft with an indigenous content of 50% which will progressively reach 60% by the end of the programme and about 250 out of 344 systems fitted in the aircraft will be indigenous.