India will develop an advanced version of its indigenous multi-role combat aircraft, bolstering its military manufacturing capability.
The Cabinet Committee on Security on Wednesday cleared a project to develop the Tejas Mark-2, approving an additional 65 billion rupees ($820 million) for prototypes, flight testing and certification.
The government had already approved 25 billion rupees for the project.
The aircraft will have a longer combat range and the capacity to carry more weapons than the existing Tejas Mark-1, the single-engine fighter jet.
While the Tejas Mark-1 jets, developed by the Aeronautical Development Agency and Hindustan Aeronautics, weigh about 13.5 tonnes, the Tejas Mark-2 will be a medium-weight jet weighing about 17.5 tonnes and will be powered by GE-414 engines in the 98 kilonewton thrust class.
The jets will have a missile approach warning system that will release smoke to deflect any rear attack.
Being a delta-wing category aircraft, it is less likely to crash when attacked. The wings of the Tejas Mark-2 are 30 centimetres bigger than those on the Mark-1
High-speed trials will begin in 2023 and production is scheduled for 2025.
The Indian Air Forces is likely to induct six squadrons of the jets.
The fighter jets are required to bolster the Indian Air Force, which has only 32 fighter squadrons and not the 42 required.
India faces hostile relations with neighbours China and Pakistan.