Are there any differences between SP 1-4 machines or are they of exactly same specs?
Private sector unconvinced about getting involved in a third Tejas production unit?
Sum ergo cogito
Doesn't sound right to me that 1 or 2 aircraft a year are being delivered when the line has a capacity to produce 8 a year. Series production started a couple of years ago now, didn't it? Yes, there are long lead items (perhaps 2 years) but for 1 aircraft to be completed, long lead component ordering must have taken place a couple of years before that first aircraft was completed. You don't order the items to make 1 or 2 aircraft when it is in series production then order more for the next 1 or 2 aircraft a year later. So what is wrong here?
Sum ergo cogito
ADA Director Cdr.(retd.) Balaji's interview with Aeromag on the LCA
Now that India’s indigenous Light Combat Aircraft, Tejas is part of Indian Air Force 45Squadron Flying Daggers, the Aeronautical Development Agency has many reasons to celebrate. Looking back, what was the biggest challenge that you faced in the development of the project?
Light Combat Aircraft (LCA)was conceived when there was no infrastructure base and almost zero technological knowledge base in the country for undertaking the enormous task of developing a modern combat aircraft. HF-24 (Marut) aircraft development was the last major combat aircraft development programme and after a gap of two decades, LCA Programme was launched. LCA was developed virtually from scratch and I feel that it was a herculean task to put together critical mass required to execute a programme of this magnitude by networking Public/Private research centres, industries and academia all over the country and more importantly instilling confidence in LCA development team. There are more than 400 work centres including HAL, DRDO, CSIR, CEMILAC, DGAQA, PSUs, IAF, IN, academic institutions, public & private industries etc., in addition to ADA. It was a challenge to assimilate the technological development by these work centres for the final integration of the aircraft. LCA team has done a tremendous job to meet the challenge and come out with flying colours.
Challenges in development of LCA Tejas were numerous. An unstable aircraft configuration and the challenges it poses in terms of handling and controllability and at the same time to provide utmost reliability with extremely high agility was one of the fundamental challenges that has been surpassed. State-of-the art composite structure to the extent of about 90% surface area and about 40% by weight is probably one of the highest in the world. The LCA team embraced this technology challenge and came out successfully. Complex accessories viz., Aircraft Mounted Accessories Gear Box (AMAGB) and compact heat exchangers have been successfully developed and integrated on the LCA. The Programme has faced technology challenges, complexity of systems design with very high safety standards, stress on higher degree of indigenised components, changes in weapons configuration, changes for avionics system architecture, changes in Electronic Warfare (EW) Suite, quantum change in build standard and aircraft fabrication etc., to just name a few.
Tejas is acclaimed as the smallest and lightest multi-role supersonic fighter aircraft of its class. How would you compare it with its nearest competitors abroad? What are its unique features?
Tejas is intended to replace ageing fleet of MIG-21 aircraft of IAF. It may be mentioned that the aircraft is far superior to MiG-21 in all aspects. Further, it is far ahead in terms of technologies and performance when compared to JF-17 and at par with Gripen. Some of the unique features of Tejas are Agility, Lightweight, use of composite materials, Advanced Avionics Suite, Advanced Flight Control System, Advanced Electro-Mechanical System and Safety Features.
Tejas has been evaluated in extreme tropical conditions like sandy, sea level, hot and cold conditions. And Tejas EW suite has been evaluated in realistic conditions at the Electronic warfare range. With FOC features of Air to Air refuelling, Beyond Visual Range (BVR) missiles and Close Combat Missile (CCM) integrated, Gun, Carefree manoeuvring, etc., Tejas is expected to be a true Air superiority and Air defence weapon of war, light, agile and manoeuvrable.
The IAF asking for 83 Tejas aircraft, Mark 1A version –what would be the schedule of delivery? Is HAL equipped to handle it all?
HAL has drawn the following likely delivery schedules for 20 aircraft in LCA AF Mk1 (IOC) configuration, 20 aircraft in LCA AF Mk1 (FOC) configuration and 83 aircraft in LCA AF Mk-1A configuration.
Production Schedule is like this: 20 aircraft IOC Standard & 4 aircraft FOC Standard are targeted to be delivered by 2018-2019 at the production rate of eight aircraft in a year in 2017-18 and 12 aircraft in a year in 2018-19. Remaining 16 FOC Standard aircraft are targeted to be delivered by 2019-2020. 83 LCA AF Mk1A standard Production will commence from 2020-21 with a Production Rate of 16 aircraft in a year.
The Naval version of LCA is perhaps the next milestone in the development of the LCA project. Have you progressed beyond the carrier compatibility flight-testing process of the LCA Naval prototypes, NP-1 and NP-2?
The primary objective of the LCA Naval variant is to operate from an Aircraft Carrier with STOBAR (Short Take Off But Arrester Recovery) concept with 14 degree parabolic Ski-Jump and Arrestor Hook Recovery System. LCA Navy MK1 aircraft has been developed incorporating naval specific requirements such as a telescopic Landing Gear for High Sink Rate landing, Arrester Hook System, LEVCON to reduce the approach speed and Improved fuselage design to cater to high loads expected for deck operations. Two LCA Navy Mk1 prototypes, NP1 (Trainer) and NP2 (Fighter) are available for flight-testing.
As a part of stipulated certification process, there was a need to test the LCA Navy aircraft ashore for Carrier Compatibility prior to its test on the carrier. In order to cater to this requirement, the Shore Based Test Facility (SBTF) was established at INS Hansa, Goa with a take-off area having 14° ski-jump and landing area with Arresting Gear System (AGS), along with other associated equipment. Presently the facility is fully operational and also being used to train Indian Navy Pilots on MiG29K aircraft, in addition to LCA Navy flight testing.
LCA Navy Mk1 demonstrated following Naval Specific and other Technologies:
Supersonic Flight achieved on both LCA Navy Mk1 aircraft
Maiden Ski-Jump was successfully demonstrated by LCA Navy Trainer (NP1) followed by 12 Ski-Jumps with R73 missiles and Night Ski Jump
Hot refuelling is demonstrated and a record flying of 3 hour duration had been achieved in one sortie
In-Flight Jettisoning has been demonstrated
Preparations towards Arrester Recovery are in process.
Weapon & Sensor testing has been initiated
A Naval standard Structural Test Specimen (STS) has been built and integrated with the Main Airframe Structural Test (MAST) rig. Testing towards clearance for Carrier Compatibility Tests (CCT) on aircraft has been completed.
Speaking of the indigenous components of Tejas, there was criticism that most of the vital parts are still foreign. How would you respond to that?
The level of indigenisation is at least to an extent of 65% currently. The entire structure along with majority of the aircraft systems like Fuel, Hydraulics, Environmental Control, Electrical, etc., of the aircraft is built in the country. Critical ‘’intelligent’ systems like the computers in Avionics, Weapons and Flight Control Systems (FCS), including hardware and software is indigenous. This is very critical and completely under our control and is considered a key enabler towards self-reliance. ADA has played a significant role for indigenous development of Line Replaceable Units (LRU’s) and advanced technologies along with development of Light Combat Aircraft (LCA) Programme. So far, 190 LRU’s out of 350 LRU’s in LCA have been indigenised and another 30-35 LRU’s are in various stages of development process. We will continue to play a major role for replacement of imported LRU’s by ab-initio design.
There was speculation on whether we would revisit the Kaveri aero engine project. Do you see any scope for a collaborative venture for making it in India?
There is a discussion to integrate and flight test an improved version of the Kaveri engine in one of the LCA prototypes. Towards this, a study has been initiated to check the various interfaces like structural, systems, software, etc., When the engine is made available, integration will be carried out for testing.
Following the success of the LCA project, the focus now shifts to the Advanced Medium Multi-Role Combat Aircraft. How far have you gone on this line?
Advanced Medium Combat Aircraft (AMCA) is a 5th Generation twin engine fighter aircraft in the medium weight category. The feasibility study has been completed and submitted to the Government. Several Configuration Design iterations are performed and configuration is frozen. Next Generation technologies development are initiated. LCA– Tejas Programme has given a significant lead in building the aircraft & its technology development within our country. ADA is confident in taking AMCA Design & Development activities to the next stage.
As for the Make in India initiative, a whole aerospace industry ecosystem would have evolved around the ADA project – could you speak about the scope of such spin-off benefits of growth and development?
LCA as a National Programme, has not only developed Tejas aircraft, but has also enabled technologies in the field of aeronautics. It has nurtured the aerospace technologies and has contributed to the development of skilled scientific& technical work force and also the establishment of various infrastructures in the field of aeronautics in the country. I feel that world is expected to look towards India as a major place of excellence in the field of Aeronautics in near future.
With its induction in 45 Squadron, Indian Air Force, Tejas facilitate a move towards self-reliance in ‘Air Power’ requirement of the Nation. I believe that this is a historic step towards self-reliance in the country and thus Tejas ushers in a sense of pride. Its development and production within the country gives a big boost to the “Make in India” resolve of the nation.
On the eve of Aero India 2017, what major initiatives would ADA be showcasing?
ADA would showcase the flying prowess of the aircraft in the currently cleared envelope of 8’g’ and higher angles of attack during the display flying. ADA would display the LCA cockpit powered up in the static display. ADA would showcase the various variants, both present and future, through models in the exhibition area. ADA would also highlight the various simulators and systems in the ADA Pavilion for the public to get a feel for the intricacies involved in a combat aircraft development.
Last edited by BlackArcher; 8th March 2017 at 20:19.
Sri Lanka fighter selection, an opportunity for India
Should the SLAF desire a supersonic multi-role aircraft, India’s Tejas Mk.1, despite its still being in the developmental phase, could be a viable option. The aircraft has already demonstrated significant capabilities in the air-to-air and air-to-ground roles and the limited number of aircraft being sought by the SLAF lends itself to relatively easy accommodation with HAL’s production schedule and capacity. Moreover, as the Indian Air Force will be undertaking training and conversion activities with the type, Sri Lanka could benefit from this process.
On the other hand, if the SLAF is seeking a cost-effective multi-role aircraft with a relatively low operating cost – and is willing to forego the “prestige” of supersonic aircraft – then the BAE-HAL Advanced Hawk has the potential to meet this requirement. The Advanced Hawk has significant combat capabilities with provision for Brimstone air-to-ground missiles and ASRAAM air-to-air missiles.8 As a subsonic aircraft with a dual training role, the operating costs of the Advanced Hawk would inevitably be lower than any supersonic combat aircraft while still offering substantial combat capability.
This combination of capability and cost-effectiveness is an important consideration given the SLAF’s problems with its existing combat assets and the acquisition and operating costs of modern supersonic aircraft.9 In addition, the large fleet of BAE Hawks operated by the Indian Air Force and the strong overhaul and maintenance facilities available in India could make the Advanced Hawk attractive to the SLAF.
If India is desirous of securing this order, it must not treat it as a purely transactional arrangement. The export of Indian combat aircraft would be a major step forward for Indian arms exports and, as such, India should be flexible in respect of prices. India should also not hesitate to offer attractive financing packages and lines of credit at low interest rates to encourage Sri Lanka to “buy Indian” – the lack of such packages reportedly playing a role in the SLAF declining a Pakistani offer of the JF-17.10
From all angles – political, economic, diplomatic and military – India is in a position to meet the SLAF’s potential combat aircraft requirements. It is a rare confluence of circumstances that has the potential to operate in India’s favour if the Indian political, bureaucratic and military-industrial leadership has the will and desire to see a sale of Indian combat aircraft to Sri Lanka become a reality.
Could be an opportunity but I think that for a Tejas sale to Sri Lanka to be a success a few things need to be sorted out...
1. Support -
This inadequacy needs to be sorted out or problems will be generated for the customer (and therefore for the supplier).It should be noted that India’s foray into military aviation exports has been plagued by missteps, shortfalls in support and poor communications. The sale of Dhruv helicopters to Ecuador was widely hailed, and rightly so, as a major breakthrough for Indian arms export. However, after a number of crashes (several of which were caused by pilot error), the helicopters were withdrawn from use, citing, among other things, poor spares support from Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL).4
Needs to get on track before exporting the product otherwise the product will not be delivered according to contract and problems will be generated for both the customer and the supplier.
Sum ergo cogito
- Physical proximity between Sri Lanka and Bangalore, where HAL's Tejas production and current No.45 Squadron workup is going on. Training of SLAF pilots and technicians would also be possible here. Simulators would not be needed in Sri Lanka and instead they could be getting trained in Bangalore, followed by a short stint with the IAF's No.45 squadron, which will be transferring out to Sulur AFS, which is also based in South India.
2) The small number of fighters (~12) being sought by the SLAF means that delivering 2-3 per year till the SLAF is able to fully train pilots and technicians should not be such a big issue. As long as the IAF is supportive and doesn't make a big fuss over some of its Mk1 fighters being diverted to the SLAF.
3) Overhaul of the jets would be much easier, due to proximity to HAL Bangalore
Regarding support for the Tejas fleet, the IAF is the biggest customer and HAL will be gearing up to be able to support the 123 (currently on order) Tejas Mk1 and Mk1A fighters. SLAF will benefit from commonality with the IAF's Tejas Mk1 fleet and if a spares support agreement is signed, it should address availability concerns that SLAF may have.
SLAF could also make use of the IAF's extensive Hawk AJT program to train its pilots. Beyond the immediate need, they could possibly be an export customer for the HTT-40 as well, for which a weaponised variant is being planned. A very affordable CAS airplane also exists in the Advanced Combat Hawk that HAL and BAe are working on.
Basically, HAL could provide for all of the SLAF's needs, from basic to advanced training to 4th generation combat fighters.
Last edited by BlackArcher; 15th March 2017 at 18:43.
Image credit- Vishal Jolapara
I've read somewhere that there was an issue with air intakes drawings. Can anyone develop please?
A few small orders would be a better idea to me, particularly since the Tejas support system could be tested and matured with any mistakes being more easily fixed.
Sum ergo cogito
HAL has plans (whether they fructify is another thing) to produce 16+ Tejas per year, with its domestic customer ready to take them all..Mk1A production should be going on till 2025 and if the Tejas Mk2 for the IAF does come around, the assembly line will be going well past 2025. So they could be in a position to offer the Tejas to Vietnam, and deliver half a dozen each year or so, if HAL can scale up production. Outsourcing more and more of the Tejas to private sector companies is the way to go, more so than is done currently.
IMO, if a Make in India program for a single engine fighter does come about, it will give a little bit of leeway to divert some Tejas Mk1A fighters from the IAF to an export customer.
I doubt proximity is a factor in these decisions. Otherwise Air India would only buy Airbus since Europe is closer and Brazil would buy American fighters rather than European Gripen
The populated areas of Brazil are about the same distance from Europe as from the USA. Rio de Janeiro time zone is 2 hours before New York, 3 hours behind London.
Juris praecepta sunt haec: honeste vivere, alterum non laedere, suum cuique tribuere.
IAF likely to get 123 Tejas fighters by 2024-25
If the present development and capacity enhancement plans go as per schedule, the Indian Air Force will have 123 indigenous Light Combat Aircraft (LCA) Tejas fighter jets in its fleet by 2024-25.
To enable this Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL) is in the process of setting up a new assembly line and is also involving the private sector in a big way, said the Chief Managing Director (CMD) of the public sector aerospace major T. Suvarna Raju in a conversation with The Hindu.
Last November the Defence Acquisition Council (DAC) had given initial clearance for 83 aircraft in the Mk-1A configuration with specific improvements sought by the IAF.
Mr. Raju said that about 45 improvements have been implemented in the 1A and HAL has already floated a tender for the Advanced Electronically Scanned Array (AESA) radar and Self-Protection Jammer (SPJ).
On the timeline for the development of the 1A, Mr. Raju said that the tender would be opened by March end after which technical evaluation and commercial negotiations would be held. “We will be able to prove it on the 1A by 2018 and start producing by 2019,” he observed.
“The IAF will get Mk-1A in 2019 by that time our capacity will also go up to 16 aircraft per year,” Mr. Raju added.
To increase the production of the aircraft HAL has outsourced major parts of the jet. “We are trying to be an integrator rather than a manufacturer, he said.
Anyone with the remotest interest in aviation would know Gripen is produced by SAAB in Sweden. But thats besides the point.
Dont know why this argument is getting out of hand.
I´ll get me hat
No, nobody is saying that. All that Sintra & I are saying is that Brazil isn't significantly closer or better connected to the USA than to Europe, & that it isn't as simple as "Gripen is made in Sweden".
Juris praecepta sunt haec: honeste vivere, alterum non laedere, suum cuique tribuere.
Tejas FOC points on the verge of completion- ADA Chief Cmde. CD Balaji
Bengaluru: Cmde Cadaba Devnath Balaji (Retd), the Director of Aeronautical Development Agency (ADA), who is all set to hang up his boots on March 31 said that all pending test points towards achieving Final Operational Clearance (FOC) of Tejas were on the verge of completion.
Speaking to Mathrubhumi, Cmde Balaji (Retd) said the aircraft build standard to FOC configuration is available and Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL) will proceed to build the next 20, after completing first Series Production platforms (20).
“The flight testing of Tejas with air-to-air-refuelling probe is in progress. The performance evaluation of radar has been encouraging. The air-to-ground weapon work has been largely completed. Accuracy improvements in terms of software update is currently on,” Cmde Balaji (Retd) said.
He said the firing of Beyond Visual Range (BVR) missile with radar is being planned shortly, while the gun firing is now fixed for the second quarter of 2017. He added that the aircraft envelope clearance for Squadron service has been progressively released, even for first set of 20 aircraft.
Giving an update on Tejas Mk2, Cmde Balaji (Retd) the aircraft will be configured for a higher thrust engine, AESA Radar, internal EW suite, OBOGS, larger internal fuel capacity, larger payload capability and better performance.
Navy rejecting NLCA hurtful
On LCA Navy Mk2, he said the concept design for an optimised deck-based aircraft, has been completed and detail design is in progress. When asked about any regrets he had as he prepares to hand over the baton of ADA, Cmde Balaji (Retd) said: “While significant lead up activities towards arrested recovery has been done (NLCA), the actual arrested recovery is yet to take place. I would have liked to have seen it happen in my tenure, but got delayed due to a few failures of aggregates. Further, the apparent rejection by the Indian Navy is hurtful.”
He said while the Navy has operated carrier borne aircraft for decades, it is the first time to develop our own aircraft.
SBTF an asset to watch for the future “From personal experience I can confidently say that operating a carrier borne aircraft gives one level of knowledge, but developing it from scratch is an entirely different ball game. LCA Navy Mk1 has provided a stepping stone for developing an optimised version specifically designed for Deck based operation in terms of LCA Navy Mk2. This will provide a design and capability that the Navy may be able to consider favourably for exploitation. In addition, this will provide the necessary skills and capabilities for the development of twin-engined, 5th generation deck-based aircraft,” he elaborated.
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