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India may avail consultancy for Tejas Mk-II from Euro bidders

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Light Combat Aircraft Tejas Mk-I

NEW DELHI (PTI): India could avail consultancy from some of European aircraft manufacturers who had bid for the multi-crore tender for fighter jets, won by Rafale, for the development of the Mark-II version of Light Combat Aircraft Tejas, timeline for which has been extended.

In a written reply in Rajya Sabha, Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar on Tuesday said the project for design and development of Light Combat Aircraft (LCA), Tejas Mk-II was sanctioned in November 2009 at a cost of Rs 2431.55 crore with Probable Date of Completion (PDC) of December 2018.

However, because of delay in finalisation of Engine Contract, the project could start only in December 2013.

"As a result, maiden flight of first Prototype and Operational Clearance are likely to be completed by December 2019 and December 2022, respectively. Thereafter induction," he said.

Aeronautical Development Agency (ADA), Bengaluru is the Nodal Agency for design and development of LCA Tejas Mk-II.

Making it clear that ADA has not entered into any collaboration with European aircraft manufacturers, who had bid for the Medium Multi Role Combat Aircraft (MMRCA) tenders for development of Tejas Mk-II, he said, "However, ADA may like to avail consultancy from some of them".

Defence sources said Sweden has offered to collaborate with India on production of light combat aircraft in the country as part of the 'Make-in-India' initiative.

Swedish company Saab had offered JAS39 Gripen-E light fighter to India when the MMRCA tender was announced.

The bid was finally won by French firm Dassault Aviation.

DRDO had a few years ago had sought Saab's help in the Mark-II version of Tejas, which will eventually be inducted into the Air Force.

Saab is likely to insist on a government-to-government (G2G) deal if they step in to assist India in developing and manufacturing a light fighter.

Tejas Mk-II would be an improved version of LCA Mk-I.

Some of the new systems and technologies, like Active Electrically Scanned Array (AESA) Radar, Unified Electronic Warfare (EW) Suite, On Board Oxygen Generation System (OBOGS), Upgraded Avionics are to be included in LCA Tejas Mk-II to make the aircraft more contemporary.

"Technologies, systems engineering and experience gained during development of LCA Tejas Mk-II would benefit the development of Fifth Generation Aircraft indigenously," Parrikar said.

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