India’s first prototype of the Tejas Mk1A has made secret maiden flight. Indian authorities plan to mass produce this version of the Tejas.According to the Indian Ministry of Defense, Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL) has conducted the test flight in an area close to its production facility.
HAL has upgraded the aircraft with serial production number SP-25 to Mk1A level. The SP-25 will act as a test platform for the entire production line of the Mk1A version as it undergoes certification tests over the next 30 months.
Once the tests are completed, deliveries will commence from March 2024. Deliveries to the Indian Air Force are scheduled to be completed by 2029.
The Tejas Mk1A is the best version of the Tejas Mk1 which reached full operational capability (FOC) in 2020. The fourth generation fighter plane is equipped with Israeli Elta EL/M-2052 AESA radar or Indian Uttam AESA radar, a self-defense system, radar receiver warning, and an external muting unit.
The Mk1A variant has a lower weight compared to the Mk1. One of the most significant changes in the aircraft, compared to Mk1, is the equipping of Indian-made Astra 1 and Astra 2 Resight Air-Air Missiles (AAM).
Currently, only Mk1 FOCs can fire Derby Oversight Air-Air Missiles.
With the Mk1A, India has taken major steps in exporting the aircraft, with India’s largest export customer being Egypt. According to Indian sources, New Delhi has recently submitted a proposal to Egypt to open a mass production facility for Dhruv and LCH helicopters in Egypt, along with Tejas Mk1A.
Egyptian authorities are expected to visit HAL’s facilities in the coming future.
Egyptian authorities had announced plans to purchase 70 Tejas Mk1A aircraft, during the Dubai 2021 Airshow.
Malaysia has also shown interest in the Tejas. India is competing in Malaysia’s LIFT/LCA tender. New Delhi is offering Tejas Mk1A to Malaysia and has offered “depot-level support”.
Malaysia wants 18 Tejas aircraft which are to be manufactured in the country with at least 30% parts of being indigenous.