Two of the Indian Aeronautical Development Agency's Tejas Mk 1 light combat aircraft will be ready for induction by March 2012.

So far, 1,659 flight tests of the Tejas have been conducted, said defence minister A K Antony. The Indian air force has ordered 40 Mk 1s, 20 with "initial operating clearance standard" and 20 with "final operation clearance standard", he added.

Antony's comments were in response to a query from a member of parliament about the status of the indigenous fighter programme. The Tejas Mk 1, which is produced by Hindustan Aeronautics, received initial operational clearance on 11 January.

 © Aeronautical Development Agency 
The Tejas Mk 1 light combat aircraft will be ready for induction by March 2012

He also discussed the costs of the programme. In 2001, this was estimated at Indian rupees 33 billion ($740 million), but cost overruns added an additional Rs24.8 billion to this.

"The additional cost was to meet the expanded scope of the programme, increased cost of materials, manpower, and maintenance of facilities," Antony said.

Separately, a two-seat prototype of a naval version of the Tejas Mk 1 could have its first flight within the next three months.

The General Electric F404-IN20-powered aircraft is undergoing ground integration tests at HAL's facility in Bengaluru, said a senior official involved in the programme.

Source: Flight International