The LCA Navy programme would go it alone in the development of its Mark-2 version with a GE F-414 engine. It will be a lighter aircraft with better manoeuvrability, whose concept design, done over nine to 12 months, will kick off in March. EADS Cassidian will be the consultant.

Once the detailed concept design is done, preliminary design review, in consultation with the Navy, will be carried out. The process of procurement of raw material would have already got under way then, mainly to ensure no time is lost for cutting metal after the critical design review gets over and the project is sealed.

The global standard of building and equipping an aircraft is 36 months from the time its design is frozen. In all, it would take eight years from now for the first flight of LCA Navy Mark-2, which will come equipped with an anti-ship missile, an addition on the Mark-1 variant. The Mark1, currently being developed, will be optimised for an air defence role with the same weapons as on its Air Force counterpart.