February 15, 2009, Bangalore -- India will build a more powerful version of its indigenously developed light combat aircraft for sale to the air force as the country seeks to reduce dependence on imports from Russian and European planemakers.
Hindustan Aeronautics Ltd., the state company that builds the aircraft named Tejas, will begin work on the 'LCA Mark 2' soon, Chairman Ashok K. Baweja said in Bangalore yesterday. India's air force will take delivery of the first version of the Tejas for its fleet next year, Baweja said.
Hindustan Aeronautics will modify the plane's fuselage and equip it with a more powerful engine to make the jet more appealing to the Indian Air Force, which has traditionally relied on Russian MiGs and Sukhoi fighter jets. India imports 70 percent of its arms requirements and needs to boost local production, Defense Minister A.K. Antony said Feb. 11.
The state company will produce 40 units of the light combat plane before production of the Mark 2 starts, Baweja said. The country is also developing a twin-engine medium combat aircraft and an unmanned combat aerial vehicle, M. Natarajan, scientific adviser to India's defense minister, said in Bangalore today. "We are confident of implementing them in two decades," he added. (india-defence.com)
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