Officials familiar with the situation indicated Wednesday that India’s light combat aircraft (LCA) Tejas will make its international debut next month. The Indian Air Force announced in a statement that it will participate in Cobra Warrior 22, a global air exercise, from March 6 to 27 at Waddington in the United Kingdom.
“The exercise’s goal is to give participating air forces operational exposure and share best practises, strengthening combat capabilities and developing friendship relationships.” The LCA Tejas would be able to show its manoeuvrability and operating competence on this platform,” it stated.
The exercise will feature five Tejas aircraft, with IAF C-17 heavy-lifters providing transportation assistance for induction and de-induction. From February 15 to 18, Tejas Mk-1 fighter planes participated at the Singapore Air Show, with the goal of maximising the export potential of the locally produced LCA.
The air show will include three Tejas Mk-1 aircraft. The aircraft has previously attended air shows in Malaysia, Dubai, and Bahrain, but has never taken part in a military drill in another nation.
The Tejas’ appearance at the Singapore air show coincided with India’s efforts to transition from one of the world’s top weapons importers to an export powerhouse. Officials say the LCA, Astra beyond-visual-range air-to-air missile, Akash surface-to-air missile system, BrahMos supersonic cruise missiles, tanks, sonars, and a variety of radars are among the military gear with export potential.
Last month, India’s BrahMos Aerospace and the Philippines struck a contract for over $375 million for the Philippine Marines to buy three batteries of the BrahMos cruise missile, a boost for New Delhi’s aspirations to become a major defence hardware exporter.
LCA, according to experts, can help India gain a foothold in international markets.
Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL), a state-owned plane manufacturer, is slated to conduct the maiden test flight of the Tejas’ newest iteration, the Mk-1A, soon. Last year, the defence government granted HAL a contract for Rs 48,000 crore for 83 LCA Mk-1A fighters for the Indian Air Force. The first Mk-1A aircraft will be delivered to the air force in March 2024, with the remainder arriving in 2029.
“The LCA Tejas has demonstrated its capabilities at a number of international air shows. “The IAF’s trust in the single-engine fighter jet is shown in its deployment for a multi-national exercise abroad,” said Air Marshal Anil Chopra (retd), director general, Centre for Air Power Studies.