The Indian Tejas (Radiance) is a lightweight multi-role fighter, developed by Aeronautical Development Agency and manufactured by HAL. It made it's maiden flight in 2001 and limited production of this aircraft commenced in 2007. It is expected to reach full operational capability with the Indian Air Force in 2010 and gradually replace the ageing MiG-21s, MiG-23s, MiG-27, Jaguars and Mirage 2000s.
The Light Combat Aircraft or LCA programme was launched in 1983. It was intended develop completely indigenous fighter, which would replace the MiG-21. At that time the MiG-21 was a mainstay of the Indian Air Force. In 1984 the Aeronautical Development Agency was established to manage the LCA programme. The first technology demonstrator was completed in 1995, however it was grounded due to troubles with flight control system.
It is a delta wing design, powered by a single engine. Composite materials are widely used in the airframe to keep the weight down. These aircraft will be powered by General Electric F404-GE-IN20 as an interim powerplant, until the GTRE GTX-35VS Kaveri turbofan becomes available. Other engines might also be fitted. Both of these engines are fitted with afterburners. The Tejas is fitted with fly-by-wire control system and multi-mode radar.
The HAL Tejas multi-role fighter can carry a wide range of weapons, mainly of Russian origin. Aircraft is fitted with eight under-wing and under-fuselage hardpoints. Maximum capacity is over 4 000 kg of external ordnance and fuel. It can carry Astra, R-77 (AA-12 Adder) beyond visual range and R-73 (AA-11 Archer) short-range air-to-air missiles. Air-to-surface missiles include the Kh-59 with TV or laser guidance, Kh-35 or Kh-31 anti-ship missiles. Aircraft can also carry various bombs, including cluster or precision-guided. It is fitted with a single twin-barrel 23-mm cannon.
A two-seat conversion trainer and naval variant of this aircraft are under development. It is reported that Indian Air Force has requirement for 200 single-seat fighters and 20 two-seat conversion trainers. Indian Navy might order a further 40 aircraft to replace the Sea Harriers.