Despite continued criticism on the jet’s performance, India still seems to have enough confidence in its indigenous Tejas fighter jet to open up a second production line. Meanwhile, Swedish Saab is offering its Airborne Electronically Scanned Array (AESA) radar to be installed in the Tejas.
The government in New Delhi has just cleared a 200 million USD investment to open up a second Tejas production line next to the existing one at Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL). The news was announced on this week at the Aero India airshow in Bengaluru.
The Tejas jets produced, will solely be used the Indian Air Force, since the Indian Navy has rejected the naval variant and is now looking for 57 new fighter jets elsewhere. The Dassault Rafale and Boeing F/A-18 Super Hornet are likely candidates.
Saab hopes to sell the Indians its Gripen fighter jets instead. Possibly to win Indian harts, the Swedes now also offer their Airborne Electronically Scanned Array (AESA) radar plus an additional electronic warfare suite for use in the Tejas.
The indigenous Light Combat Helicopter of India is showing more and more of its capabilities. The latest achievement in the flight testing phase: the firing of 70-mm rockets like it will do in a real-war situation.
The firing trials are executed at Jaisalmer, where the 20-mm gun in the nose turret, as well as air-to-air missiles will be deployed from the LCH this year as well, a spokesperson of the helicopter’s manufacturer, Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL), confirmed. “The LCH TD-3 is integrated with Electo-Optical (EO) System, Solid State Digital Video Recording System (SSDVR) and 70mm Rocket system in conjunction with an updated Glass Cockpit software to cater for rocket firing.”
Iron Fist 2016
Meanwhile HAL and the Indian Air Force are confident enough to enrole the LCH in the nation’s Iron Fist 2016 exercise, which starts on 18 March and takes place in the Thar Desert. A total of 181 aircraft are planned to take part, flying in from several bases.
Unique to the LCH
The Light Combat Helicopter – we at Airheadsfly.com actually hope somebody in India will come up with a fancy nickname – is a 5.5-ton class, combat helicopter. It is powered by two Shakti engines and inherits many technical features of the HAL Dhruv. According to HAL the features that are unique to LCH are sleek and narrow fuselage, tri-cycle crashworthy landing gear, crashworthy and self sealing fuel tanks, armor protection, nuclear and low visibility features which makes the LCH lethal, agile and survivable.
The helicopter wil have day/night targeting systems for the crew including the Helmet Pointed Sight and Electro-Optical Pod consisting of CCD camera/FLIR/Laser Range Finder (LRF)/Laser Designator (LD). The LCH is fitted with Self Protection Suite consisting of Radar/Laser Missile warning systems and Counter Measures Dispensing System (CMDS).
The first prototype helicopter had its inaugural flight on 23 March 2010. Since then three more machines were added to the flight and weapons testing program.
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.
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.
After two crashes reportedly due to a pilot error and two presumably due to a technical problem, the Ecuadorian Armed Forces are now retiring the three remaining HAL Dhruv light helicopters from active service.
The Ecuadorian Ministry of Defence has confirmed the decision, according to press agency AP.
While the branches of the Indian military are flying about 200 Dhruv’s exports have been very limited with Ecuador as the only real showcase with a substantial number of Dhruvs in service since 2009, until now.
As reported here on Airheadsfly.com earlier this month, the future of the Mk2 version of the Indian Tejas indigenous fighter jet is uncertain. And on Monday 19 October it became even more uncertain as the Indian Navy reported it is reviewing the Mk2’s development.
The Indian Air Force has basically already stated it is planning for 120 Tejas fighters in its current development state and incorporating a number of structural design changes. A new Mk2 version with a more GE F-414 engine and air-to-air refueling capability is off the table as far as the air force goes.
That decision leaves the Indian Navy on its own for the Mk2 version. The added power is welcome bonus for operations aboard an aircraft carrier, but the Navy is now ‘reviewing’ the Mk2 version also. The first Mk2 originally was planned to fly in two years from now, but that – if it ever flies – seems highly unlikely now.