Tag Archives: HAL

Tejas debuts in Bahrain, battles Thunder

The Indian made Tejas fighter jet is all set for its international airshow debut these days during the Bahrain International Airshow starting Thursday 21 January. The type is engaged in a fierce battle with the Pakistan-made JF-17 Thunder, albeit a virtual one thanks to the virtues of social media. Both sides have battling it out for weeks already.

Two Tejas jets arrived at Bahrain’s Sakhir airbase on 14 January and started orientation flights. The Tejas – powered by a GE F404-IN20 turbofan – was designed and produced by Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL) but even after decades of development and testing fails to meet Indian Air Force expectations. An improved ‘Mark 2’ version – featuring the more powerful F414 engine – will probably never see the light of day.

It’s appearance in Bahrain most likely is the result of Pakistan’s recent success in selling it’s JF-17 Thunder abroad. Nigeria is expecting three to be delivered this year and Myanmar is also a rumoured customer.  No JF-17 is scheduled to appear in Bahrain, however. Powering the Thunder is the Russian designed Klimov RD-93 engine.


Sri Lanka

More recently, a Pakistani campaign to sell JF-17 Thunders to Sri Lanka – that other neighbour to India – infuriated New Delhi. After days of confusing news, Indian media proudly reported New Delhi has prevented the deal from happening and also stated the Tejas was now on offer to Sri Lanka.

It is safe to say Sri Lanka would prefer the JF-17 Thunder, a joint undertaking by Pakistan and China that has resulted in a reasonably advanced, capable and affordable alternative to expensive Western and Russian  fighter aircraft. It could very likely sell to other customers  as well.

Any foreign sale of Tejas jets however is as unlikely as…. well, India buying the JF-17. The program is too troubled for any foreign nation to be interested in. Displaying the aircraft in Bahrain is a matter of politics and prestige, not economics.

© 2016 Airheadsfly.com editor Elmer van Hest
Featured Image: The Tejas Light Combat Aircraft (Image © Hindustan Aeronautics Limited)

Indian Air Force feels need for 120 Tejas jets

The Indian Air Force has a need for 120 Tejas Light Combat Aircraft (LCA) to equip six squadrons, air force chief Arup Raha said on 3 October. An equal number of  ‘Rafale-type’ fighter jets should ideally complement the Tejans. The outlook for the Tejan MkII – a futher development of the indigenous fighter jet – seems uncertain.

The Indian Air Force is currently working up to Final Operational Clearance (FOC) for a dozen or so of Tejan jets. FOC was originally set for the end of 2015 but should now should be achieved by March 2016

The Tejan has been in development for over 30 years and it still a troubled design. Manufacturer Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL) has suggested four major design changes. Indian Air Force says it would like to acquire 120 jets if those changes are made. The order total now stands at 40.

The air force chief made it clear that the 36 Dassault Rafales for the Indian Air Force are not enough in his eyes. Another 120 or so ‘Rafale-type’ jets should accompany the Tejas jets in the future. The contract for 36 Rafales still has to be finalized, however. Negotiations for more Rafales seemed to have hit a dead end earlier this year.

Meanwhile, it seems unlikely the Tejas MkII will take to the sky in 2017 as planned earlier. That variant should incorporate a more powerful engine and an air-to-air refueling capability.

© 2015 Airheadsfly.com editor Elmer van Hest
Featured image: A Tejas Light Combat Aircraft (LCA), designed and produced by Hindustan Aeronautics Limited. (Image © Hindustan Aeronautics Limited)

Indian Air Force Tejas unacceptable until at least 2019

The new Indian Air Force Light Combat Aircraft – known as the Tejas – will not be acceptable for combat duty until at least 2019. Noting recent criticism made by Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG), the authority that keeps an eye on what the Indian government spends its money on, the Tejas has severe shortcomings that have not to been easy to solve.

↑ Check out our continuing coverage on the Tejas

The LCA Tejas is being build by India’s own Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL). Despite the number prototypes and pre-production examples slowly coming to 20 aircraft, the problems with the future combat jet continue.

Take-off for NP2, the second naval variant prototype of the LCA-Tejas (Image © Hindustan Aeronautics Limited)
Second naval Tejas airborne
“LCA Mark-I, which achieved Initial Operational Clearance in December 2013 has significant shortfalls as a result of which it will have reduced operational capabilities and reduced survivability, thereby limiting its operational employability when inducted into IAF squadrons. LCA Mark-I does not meet the standards. The deficiencies are now expected to be met in LCA Mark-II by December 2018,” according to a CAG report released this week. This will mean that combat readiness can be expected in January 2019 at the earliest.

One of the significant problems is the electronic self protection suite, like HAL not having been able yet to construct the jammer into the plane. Moreover, HAL needs to incorporate more foreign bought elements, since Indian industries failed to develop a well-functioning engine, radar and information display systems for the pilot.

Despite claims by HAL that the Tejas is functioning up to 70 percent of what it has been promised to do, the CAG puts that percentage on a mere 35 percent.

Problems with the Tejas have resulted in the Indian Air Force having to keep its aging fleets of Mikoyan-Gurevich MiG-21s, Mirage fighters and Jaguar attack jets longer in service, with an increasing cost for maintenance and overhaul.

Despite all criticism, HAL, the Indian Air Force and the Indian Navy say to be confident that in due course the Tejas will be a robust part of the Asian nation’s defence and strike capabilities.

© 2015 Airheadsfly.com editor Marcel Burger
Featured image (top): One of the limited production examples of the HAL LCA Tejas. (Image © Aeronautical Development Agency, Ministry of Defence, India)

India Rafale deal takes Dassault and HAL out of the game

The sale of 36 Dassault Rafale multirole fighters to the Indian Air Force, as agreed upon last week, looks very lucrative for the French aircraft manufacturer. But there is a catch, Dassault is also taken out of the game when it comes to doing direct business in India – with Hindustan Aeronautics Limited in both a win and loose situation.

The Tejas Light Combat Aircraft (Image © Hindustan Aeronautics Limited)
Related post: Indian Air Force gets hands on first Tejas LCA
“If there is any future purchase of more of these combat aircraft, they will be done only after direct negotiations between the French and Indian governments,” Indian defence minister Manohar Parrikar told reporters – including those of international press agency Reuters – on Monday 13 April.

The statement seems both good and bad news for the indigenous aviation industry of India, led by Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL). Good, because the New Delhi government has signaled to find the Rafale quite expensive making possibly more room for HAL’s Tejas Light Combat Aircraft (LCA) that is already due to stream into the Air Force and Naval Air Arm by numbers. Bad, because HAL’s hope for a transfer of Rafale technology to be able to produce 108 of the highly-modern aircraft under license seems now gone up in smoke.

For French Dassault it is now hoping for continuing goodwill and friendship between Paris and New Delhi, to get a follow-on order for its top-of-the-bill multirole fighter. Deemed too expensive even by recent quotes of government officials in New Delhi, the second largest populated country in the world still has agreed to buy 36 of them directly from the French aircraft factory. The final target of the Indian Air Force: to beef up its fighter strength from the current 34 squadrons to the approved 42. That’ll mean a lot of new aircraft to come.

© 2015 Airheadsfly.com editor Marcel Burger
Featured image: Indian-French Rafale deal puts Dassault and HAL on distance (Image © Marcel Burger)

India receives first upgraded Mirage 2000s

The Indian Air Force on 25 March accepted the first two newly modified Mirage 2000 I/TI at Istres airbase in France. The two fighter aircraft underwent extensive upgrades in the hands of Dassault and Thales. The cost of the modification program is an estimated 2.4 billion USD.

India in 2011 signed a contract for the upgrade of 51 Mirage 2000 aircraft. The maiden flight of the first upgraded Mirage 2000 was completed successfully by Dassault Aviation on 5 October 2013, following a two year development phase dedicated to the equipment kit provided by Thales, including a new Thales RDY radar, glass cockpit with helmet-mounted display system, an electronic warfare suite including data link, and mission computer.  The Mirages should also be able to use newly bought Litening targeting pods.

The first two aircraft, seen during handover to India at Istres airbase in France. (Image © Dassault Aviation)
The first two aircraft, seen during handover to India at Istres airbase in France. (Image © Dassault Aviation)
The Indian aircraft received an extensive upgrade. (Image © Dassault Aviation)
The Indian aircraft received an extensive upgrade. (Image © Dassault Aviation)

The rest of the Indian Air Force Mirage 2000 fleet will be upgraded in Bangalore, India, under the responsibility of Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL) with the complete support and involvement of Dassault Aviation and Thales teams. Since two aircraft crashed since the upgrade contract was signed, only 49 Mirages will receive the modifications in the end. India has been flying the Mirage 2000 since the 1980s.

Dassault says ‘the acceptance of the first two upgraded Mirage 2000 by the Indian Air Force is a new milestone in the long term cooperation between French and Indian industry based on cutting edge technologies and the sharing of know-how and expertise.’

For the French aircraft manufacturer there’s a lot at stake in India, with an order for 126 newly built Rafale 4.5th generation fighter aircraft on the cards. The deal has been subject of tough negotiations for years however, with India recently also eyeing the Sukhoi Su-30 instead. According to Eric Trappier, chairman & CEO of Dassault Aviation, ‘the Rafale will fulfill all of the operational requirements of the Indian Air Force and the industrial requirements of India’s economic policy as the Mirage 2000 continues to do.’

© 2015 Airheadsfly.com editor Elmer van Hest
Featured image: Skywards for this modified Indian Air Force Mirage 2000. (Image © Dassault Aviation)

(Image © Dassault Aviation)
Skywards for this modified Indian Air Force Mirage 2000 I. (Image © Dassault Aviation)
(Image © Dassault Aviation)
The update compromised both a two seater Mirage 2000 TI aircraft. (Image © Dassault Aviation)
(Image © Dassault Aviation)
… and a single seat Mirage 2000 I. (Image © Dassault Aviation)
An overview of the Dassault facility. (Image © Dassault Aviation)
An overview of the Dassault facility. (Image © Dassault Aviation)
The modified Mirage 2000s will take opponents head on. (Image © Dassault Aviation)
The modified Mirage 2000s will take opponents head on. (Image © Dassault Aviation)