Indian aerospace and defence company Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL) is planning to conduct first flight of Light Combat Aircraft (LCA) Tejas Mk-1A jet by March next year.

The aircraft will take its maiden flight following the completion of necessary design activities, according to a Hindustan Times report.

The development comes around six months after the Indian Government placed a $6.57bn order with HAL for 83 Tejas MK1A aircraft for the Indian Air Force (IAF).

The report also added that HAL will soon announce a deal with US firm GE Aviation for 99 F404 engines. These engines will power the multirole combat aircraft.

HAL chairman R Madhavan was quoted by the Hindustan Times as saying: “The preliminary design review is over and so is the critical design review for several systems, including mission computer, digital map generator and digital flight control systems.

“We are integrating the active electronically scanned array (AESA) radar and the electronic warfare suite on the final operational clearance (FOC) version of the LCA. After it is proven there, we will integrate it on the final Mk-1A version.”

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The LCA Mk-1A will feature several improvements over previous variants.

The jet will be equipped with digital radar warning receivers, external self-protection jammer pods, AESA radar and the capability to fire advanced beyond-visual-range (BVR) missiles among others.

HAL is expected to deliver the first two aircraft in 2024 followed by an additional eight units in 2025. The remaining units will be delivered in several batches by 2029.