Indian Tejas fighter makes maiden flight of two-seat variant

Hindustan Aeronautics’ Light Combat Aircraft (LCA) program now has a Trainer version, for advanced training and light attack

Hindustan Aeronautics (HAL), an Indian state-owned aerospace company, performed the maiden flight of the LCA Trainer, a two-seat variant of the Tejas fighter, on April 5.

The series production aircraft was designated LT-5201 and remained in flight for 35 minutes after taking off from Bengaluru Airport in the south of the country.

The two-seat version of the Tejas was originally conceived, but retains a combat capability.

Like the single-seat fighter, the Trainer is equipped with a GE F404 turbofan with a Full Authority Digital Engine Control (FADEC) system, Martin-Baker Mk16 ejection seats, fly-by-wire and a modern radar.

According to HAL, the LCA Trainer can reach Mach 1.8, has a maximum takeoff weight of 13,500 kg and a range of 1,200 km.

The new aircraft should assume the role of advanced instruction, currently carried out by the British BAe Hawk jet, but there is no information about an order placed by the Indian Air Force.

Offer to Argentina

The LCA program emerged in the 1980s when India decided to develop a local fighter to replace the Russian MiG-21.

However, the first flight only took place in January 2001, and entry into service with the Indian Air Force in 2005. Since then, the aircraft has undergone several improvements, currently in the Mark 1A variant.

HAL is also developing the Tejas Mark 2, which will feature canards, the GE F414 engine, an infrared tracking and search system (IRST) and AESA radar.

In addition, the Indian Navy is evaluating a naval version of the Tejas, which some time ago carried out the first operation aboard the country’s new aircraft carrier, the INS Vikrant.

Hindustan and the Indian government have been struggling to find Tejas foreign customers, but so far the effort has been unsuccessful.

The fighter is one of the finalists in the competition held by the Argentine Air Force, along with the Chinese-Pakistani JF-17 and the F-16. A decision, however, is yet to be announced.


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