Centre Waives 'Conditional Clause' On Development Of LCA Mark-2, Work On 6 Prototypes To Begin Soon: SourcesBy Sanjay Chowdhury
August 5 2023
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New Delhi: With the Centre waiving the "conditional clause" on the development of the Light Combat Aircraft (LCA) Mark 2, work on the six prototypes can now begin.
The Centre had earlier cleared the project for the prototypes and finally, perhaps 230 LCA fighter aircraft for the Indian Air Force, but had said work could not begin unless a suitable engine was available. The recent decision in Washington DC after the meeting between Prime Minister Narendra Modi and the US President Joe Biden to make the GE-414 aircraft engine in India has ensured the engine is available, finally. So, the government has just removed the conditionality clause.
Of course, sources said, while the government has cleared the way, work cannot yet begin as the US Congress is yet to clear it. There is a firm belief, however, that there is bipartisan support in both the US Senate (which the Democrats (the party of President Biden) and the House of Representatives, in which the Republicare in a majority, the deal will be cleared.
The LCA Mark 2 designs are ready, but the engine has to be made in India. The prototypes are expected to take about 5-6 years. Then, once the IAF clears it, Hindustan Aeronautics will make the 230 planes, over 15 years or more-- it is a project that would cost tens of thousands of crores and it is definitely long term. The Mark 2 is expected to be a more superior aircraft than its predecessor, the Mark 1, of which the IAF currently has 32 with about four more squadrons on order.
The IAF has been talking about force depletion; its fighter squadrons are losing strength, with the Russian MiG-21 almost gone, and the Anglo-French Jaguars, the Russian MiG-29s likely to go soon. The French Mirage-2000s will follow; the IAF has about 50 planes--3 squadrons and they are 40 years old. All that leaves the IAF with are about 270 Russian-designed Sukhoi-30s and of course, the newly acquired 36 Rafales. The IAF has been unofficially talking about having 2-3 more squadrons of Rafales as a repeat order or even, single-engine fighter aircraft that are cheaper in terms of costs and maintenance. As the IAFs already has Rafales, it will be easier in terms of training and logistics, but there are "budgetary" issues to consider, sources said.
Centre Waives 'Conditional Clause' On Development Of LCA Mark-2, Work On 6 Prototypes To Begin Soon: Sources
Indian Standard Time.
ADA representatives changed timelines so fast after getting funding approval.
Also, when did the required prototype number increased to 6?