It's official now that Tejas, the light combat fighter developed by Hindustan Aeronautical Limited, will fly in Indian Air Force colours.
The government has now signed an MoU with HAL for 40 of the jets, which have been in development for more than two decades.
"I have just announced that I will be signing the contract first," said Air Chief Marshal SP Tyagi.
But none of the jets are expected to enter the IAF until 2008.
Tejas is presently displaying its flying prowess at the ongoing 5th Aero India show in Bangalore.
However, the Hindustan Aeronautics now has its task cut out. Though the LCA flight-test programme has been incident free, a lot of subsystems like radar systems, missiles and avionics are still being developed.
But it's not just the Tejas that the IAF is looking at. More immediately, the IAF urgently requires 126 fighters to replace old MiG fighters, which are now obsolete, and being retired.
The competition to select this new generation jet is now all set to begin, in what will ultimately be one of the biggest defense deals India will have ever signed.
The fly-off is between Dassault, which manufacturers the Mirage 2000, a jet the IAF already operates, an updated version of the MiG-29 manufactured by Russia, the American F-16 and the Swedish Gripen, which is marketed by British Aerospace.