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At Aero India 2023, will the TEJAS fighter aircraft programme finally take off? To match “the enemies’ flying,” TEJAS MK-2 will require a production pace of at least 18 aircraft annually.

through Aritra Banerjee

India’s first indigenous, cutting-edge fighter aircraft is the Light Combat Aircraft (LCA) TEJAS, whose name translates to “radiance.” State-owned defence and aerospace company Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL) produced the aircraft for the Indian Air Force (IAF) and the Indian Navy (IN). The TEJAS, which was initially intended to be a technology demonstrator, served as the model for several subsequent models, including the TEJAS MK-1, MK-1A, MK-2 Medium Weight Fighter (MWF), and the TEJAS Naval variant.

Reports state that HAL is also constructing a TEJAS variant that will be used as a training plane for pilots who have successfully completed Advanced Training. Lead-in-Fighter Trainer, the name of this project, stands for LIFT.

From a technological display to a contemporary fighter

The TEJAS MK-1’s design was initially envisaged in the middle of the 1980s, but actual building didn’t start until several years later. A multipurpose fighter jet named the MK-1 joined the IAF’s fleet in 2015. India had produced 37 of these aircraft as of 2020.

The HAL TEJAS’s internal electronic warfare (EW) suite consists of an integrated radar warning receiver (RWR), a chaff and flare dispenser system, a self-protection jammer, and beyond visual range (BVR) missile capabilities. Additionally, its airframe weighs unusually little due to the use of novel composite materials, which make up 45% of its composition. Additionally, optical stealth is a benefit of the TEJAS’s tiny design. A Y-duct inlet on the jet also protects the engine compressor face from radar radiation.

A powerful Fly-by-Wire (FBW) system with four channels is used in the TEJAS aircraft. Flight control systems that use computers to process pilot inputs are referred to as FBW.

A single General Electric F-404 afterburning turbofan engine with an 85 kiloton output powers the TEJAS MK-1. It allows the plane to go at a top speed of 2,200 km/h. The jet has a 500-kilometer combat range.

The aircraft’s MTWO, or maximum takeoff weight, is about 13,500 kg. The aircraft, which has a payload capacity of 5,300 kg, can carry up to 2,458 kg of internal fuel in addition to 725 litres of external gasoline in the drop tanks situated on the fuselage and 1200 and 800 litres in the inboard and midboard stations, respectively, located beneath the wings.

The TEJAS is equipped with anti-aircraft weapons like the Astra BVR, R-73, I-Derby, ASRAAM WVR, and Python-5 missiles. The supersonic BrahMos cruise missile is being developed for TEJAS as the BrahMos-NG.

However, the lack of canards on this indigenous aircraft causes the fighter jet’s flight to be incredibly unstable.

Promotes Native Technology

The TEJAS has a “glass cockpit” with three “55” multi-function displays and two Smart Standby Display Units that is compatible with night vision goggles (NVG) (SSDU). The Central Scientific Instruments Organization created the Head-Up Display (HUD), a transparent display that shows data without requiring the pilot to change their field of vision (CSIO).

The aeroplane advertises a “get-you-home” panel with a Bharat Electronics Limited fail-safe air data computer (ADC) (BEL). It makes use of a computational intelligence-based technology to give the captain crucial flight information in an emergency. The IAF ground station network is connected to the ADC, allowing them to take over the emergency controls of an unstable aircraft. Both the Flight Control System (FCS) and the Mission Planning were totally developed in India.

According to reports, the TEJAS MK-1 has been locally produced to a level of 58% with the help of numerous local partners.

The majority of the internal systems were created and built by HAL, which sourced many of the components from over 500 private sector businesses. However, some crucial components are still sourced from international players. The radar is from Israel, the engine is from US company GE, the pilot’s ejection seat is from UK company Martin Baker, etc.

The TEJAS MK-1A, which has more than 40 upgrades over the MK1, is anticipated to go into production in 2023, according to accessible sources. MK-2 development is also proceeding in the meantime.

TEJAS MK-2 and Upcoming Potential Turbulence

A canard has been fitted to the TEJAS MK-2 variant’s wings, giving the fighter characteristics of contemporary aircraft like the Sukhoi 30MKI, Eurofighter, or Rafale.

One of the modifications is the appearance. The engine in the TEJAS MK-2 is a more potent GE F-414. The fighter’s 10-tonne body mass and 6.5 tonnes of external payload are included in the higher maximum takeoff weight of 16.5 tonnes. This model can transport 3.5 tonnes of gasoline in the external drop tanks in addition to the 3.3 tonnes in the internal fuel tanks. While still having room and capability for three tonnes of sensors and weaponry, it can carry all of this.

A spin-off from the TEJAS technology, according to some defence and aerospace analysts, will help with future projects like the Advanced Medium Combat Aircraft (AMCA) or other similar platforms, significantly reducing the development time for such future systems.

Group Captain Johnson Chacko stated that the “TEJAS programme has progressed to a state where the MK-2 is on the drawing board, which will likely be followed by the AMCA” in an article for Mission Victory India. These will undoubtedly have cutting-edge technology installed. These’s design is dependent on prompt government funding.

Predictions for the TEJAS MK-2

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