HAL Tejas LCA (Light Combat Aircraft) Multirole Fighter Aircraft
The HAL Tejas was officially taken into service by the Indian Air Force in July 2016 - marking a milestone for the 30-year-old supersonic jet fighter program - the Navy has rejected it.
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The HAL Tejas is India's newest and latest fighter platform and represents an indigenous design effort culminating from decades of research and development. The HAL Tejas was born from an internal Indian initiative to produce a home-grown fighter design and her ultimate development stemmed from the Light Combat Aircraft (LCA) program enacted in the 1980s in an effort to replace the Soviet Cold War-era Mikoyan-Gurevich MiG-21 "Fishbed" interceptors then in service with the Indian Air Force (IAF). As it stands, the HAL Tejas will become only the second aircraft design by HAL (Hindustan Aeronautics Limited) of India to have inherent supersonic capabilities (the other being the HAL Marut of the 1960s). As of January 2011, the Tejas has been formally accepted into operational service with the IAF with a planned procurement contract to number some 200 single-seat aircraft as well as a further 20 two-seat trainers. The Indian Navy is also considering purchase of the new mount with a 40-strong order in an effort to replace its aging fleet of Sea Harriers and related trainers.
In 1969, Hindustan Aeronautics Limited was selected by Indian authorities to develop a new multirole fighter airframe. Design studies ensued until the project was ultimately shelved due to a lack of a suitable powerplant. After the collapse of the initial attempt, the LCA program was begun in 1983 with the primary goal of replacing the MiG-21 with a secondary internal goal of advancing India's aviation industry. The MiG-21 had served as the backbone of the IAF for decades and was available in large numbers but her days had become obviously marked and her long-term usefulness was suspect considering the advances in military technology in other parts of the world. Up to this point, India had long relied on outside help to stock her aircraft inventories - particularly from the Soviet/Russian firms of Mikoyan and Sukhoi - but the country had advanced to a point that it was appropriate to look for indigenous solutions to her military needs.