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.
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 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.
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.
“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.
The second LCA-Tejas prototype in Indian Navy pre-configuration took to the skies on 7 February 2015, Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL) confirmed on 9 February.
NP2 made its 35 minute flight from the HAL plant in Bangalore, taking off at about 12:27 local time. The aircraft will be especially tested on its landing gear design, which is different from the regular set of wheels of the air force variant.
During the design and construction NP2 has been customized (Plug & Play) to incrementally accept modifications for Carrier Landing aids like the Levcon Air Data Computer, auto-throttle, external and internal angle of attack lights. NP2 is the lead aircraft for arrestor hook integration, Derby Beyond visual Range missile and tactical data link. Arrested landing and ski-jump take-offs will be tested at a shore-based facility in Goa before moving to a carrier at sea.
Captain Shivnath Dahiya, Indian Navy and Natinional Flight Test Centre (NFTC) was the test pilot on the job. Test Director being Gp. Capt Prabhu and the Safety Pilot being Gp. Capt. RR Tyagi were flying chase.
The Indian Air Force (IAF) took possession of the first indigenous-built Tejas Light Combat Aircraft (LCA) on Saturday 17 January. Defence minister Manohar Parrikar handed the aircraft over from state-owned developer and manufacturer Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL) to the IAF. Air force pilots will now try and get the fighter airplane ready for Final Operational Clearance (FOC) towards the end of 2015.
It’s the series production SP1 aircraft that is now owned by the air force, two months after its first flight on 1 October 2014. The ceremony took place in the presence of Air Chief Marshal Anup Raha at the Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL) in Bengaluru.
It is believed that over the next three years, 20 Tejas LCAs will be produced to allow the first squadron to be equipped. So far, fifteen test aircraft have been built, aiming which two double seat trainers. The Tejas is an indigenous to replace dozens and dozens of Indian Air Force MiG-21s, but the project faced delay after delay. The go-ahead for the project was given no less than 32 years ago. The latest milestone was the first ‘dry’ ski jump for the carrier version of the Tejas.
Also, if FOC is achieved, the Indian Air Forces still has a lot of desires left, first among which is more a powerful engine than the current GE F404-IN20 engine. A preliminary design review – including the GE F414 engine – has been made for Tejas LCA Mark-II, with a first flight expected no sooner than 2017.