The Indian Air Force (IAF) has started the process for additional acquisition of Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL)-built Tejas Mk-1A fighter aircraft with the issuance of a formal Request for Proposal (RFP) to the state-owned airframer in December 2017. HAL already has production orders in hand for 40 Tejas Mk-1 fighter aircraft and till date five series production aircraft have been delivered by HAL to the IAF. Tejas SP-7 completed its maiden flight in December and will be the sixth aircraft to be delivered to No. 45 Squadron 'Flying Daggers'. The production of the remaining 15 aircraft (11 fighters and 4 trainers) will be completed by 2019.
The IAF decision to issue an RFP for procurement of 83 Tejas Mk-1A fighters, is a significant shot in the arm for the indigenous fighter programme that has been beset with time overruns. The lack of timely and sizeable orders has often impacted indigenous projects and it is indeed a healthy sign to see that important home-grown defence products are receiving sizeable orders as evidenced from orders placed by the armed forces for the BrahMos supersonic cruise missile and Akash surface-to-air missile (SAM) system and many other products. As of December 28, 2017, the Tejas development effort had completed 3714 flights. Worryingly, the Navy NP1 and NP2 prototype aircraft have not flown since end of May 2017.
Conscious about the fact that the IAF is unhappy with the Tejas Mk-1 in Initial Operational Clearance (IO