Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL) Light Combat Aircraft (LCA) Is the first Indegenously Built Fighter Aircraft By India of International Standards.
How Well Do You Know HAL LCA Tejas ? Here are some interesting facts about Tejas You Don’t Know And Also In Depth Analysis Of Tejas Fighter Aircraft.
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- Tejas, India’s first indigenous Light Combat Aircraft (LCA), which is all set to replace the MiG-21 series, is a result of several years of design and development nearly 3 decades work from the DRDO.
- Right from the drawing board, the aim of the LCA program was to deliver the best single engine lightweight fighter in the world. It came from the Light Combat Aircraft (LCA) programme, which began in the 1980s to replace India’s ageing MiG-21 fighters. LCA was officially named “Tejas” in 2003, meaning “Radiant” in Sanskrit by the then Prime Minister Shri Atal Bihari Vajpayee.
- The Tejas project has cost India just Rs 7,000 crore ( USD 1 Billion Dollar ) – peanuts when compared to costs of similar aircraft in the world. The DRDO is also working on making an advanced medium aircraft with twin engines.
- The Defense Research and Development Organization (DRDO) and its partner agencies are developing four versions of Tejas – LCA for the IAF, LCA trainer for the IAF, LCA for the Indian Navy (IN) and LCA trainer for the IN. To aid the development of the navy variants of the aircraft, a shore based testing facility was created in Goa, including a ramp that mimics the take off / landing deck of an aircraft carrier.
- Tejas is the best in its class in the world. It is a four plus generation aircraft. The wings are made entirely of composite structures. The contemporary aircraft has a totally digital fly-by-wire control system.
- Another feature that is special to Tejas is the ‘unstable configuration’ technique with which it has been built. Tejas employs a delta wing configuration (wings shaped like a triangle) with no tail planes or canard, and a single dorsal fin. The aircraft is, by design unstable. The unstable design makes it extremely maneuverable, giving it a distinct edge over its competitors when it comes to dogfights. To explain it in lay-man terms, between a bike and a car, a car is much more stable, but is unable to exhibit the same maneuverability as a bike. Combat aircraft need to be highly maneuverable.
- Tejas has a pure double delta wing configuration (wing root leading edge sweep 50°, outer wing leading edge sweep 62.5° and trailing edge forward sweep 4°), with no tailplanes or canard, and a single dorsal fin. It integrates technologies such as relaxed static stability, fly-by-wire flight control system, multi-mode radar, integrated digital avionics system, composite material structures, and a flat rated engine. It is the smallest and lightest in its class of contemporary supersonic combat aircraft.
- The Tejas is the second supersonic fighter developed by Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL) after the HAL HF-24 Marut. As of 2016 the Tejas MK1 was in production for the Indian Air Force (IAF) and the naval version was undergoing flight tests for Indian Navy (IN). The projected requirement for IAF is 200 single-seat fighters and 20 twin-seat trainers, while the IN expects to operate 40 single-seat fighters. The first Tejas IAF unit, No. 45 Squadron IAF Flying Daggers was formed on 1 July 2016 with two aircraft. Initially being stationed at Bangalore, the first squadron will be placed at its home base at Sulur, Tamil Nadu
- With all major militaries investing significantly in radars to detect incoming aircraft and air defense systems to shoot them down, stealth is the new cornerstone for any new aircraft development. The idea is to keep the Radar Cross Section (RCS) as low as possible. Tejas employs various features to keep the RCS low, including Y-shaped air inlets, extensive use of composite materials (which do not reflect radar waves) and a generous coating of radar-absorbing materials over the control surfaces.
- LCA has 8 weapon hardpoints (a special station on the airframe designated to carry an external load) – three under each wing, one under the central body and one under the air inlets on the left side of the plane. This allows Tejas to use a wide range of the weapon systems. This includes mid and close-range air-to-air missiles, precision-guided weapons, air-to-surface (including anti-ship) missiles, conventional bombs, cluster bombs and unguided rockets. The pylons can carry a maximum of 4 tons of weapons. This is in addition to the plane’s main gun, a 23mm twin barreled cannon with 220 rounds.
- The Tejas also incorporates a ‘glass cockpit’ in which information is displayed ‘real-time’ to the pilot. Tejas also has open architecture software for avionics. DRDO can update it as and when required.
- The capability of any advanced platform can only be proven through relentless and repeated testing. In fact, the LCA prototypes had completed over 1000 test flights and over 530 hours of flight testing by January 2009. In 2013 alone there were over 450 test flights. The various prototypes underwent rigorous hot weather training in Jaisalmer in the heights of summers. For cold weather and high altitude tests, the planes were taken to Ladakh.
- Tejas has the Multi Mode Weapon multirole capability, can fire Laser Guided Bombs, has passed all the tests for “All Weather Clearance” and has been cleared for fly without any telemetry support. It will enable the IAF to carry out air superiority and offensive air support missions, forward air field operations, all weather multi role operations, electronic counter measures and night flying operations. Moreover, Tejas is capable of flying non-stop to destinations over 1700 km away and its Radius of Action is up to 500 km depending upon the nature and duration of actual combat.
Tejas marks an important chapter in the books of Indian defense industry towards self-reliance. The development also opens up an opportunity for India’s public and private sector to work in tandem to develop and produce world-class military systems of the highest quality.
In Depth Analysis Of HAL LCA Tejas :
Before Going Further Terms You Need To Know –
SEAD – Suppression Of Enemy Air Defenses
DEAD – Defeat of Enemy Air Defenses
IADS – Integrated Air Defense System
AAA – Anti Aircraft Artillery
C3 – Command Control Communication
CAS – Close Air Support
WVRAAM – Within Visual Range Air to Air Missile
MRAAM – Medium Range Air to Air Missile
LPI – Low Probability of Intercept
SAM – Surface to Air Missile
How good the LCA is , will depend on the situation and type of mission (SEAD, DEAD) that it is entrusted wit.
If the enemy IADS is dense and overlapping like in the case of China the LCA ( or for that matter any other fighter aircraft ) will have a hard time in penetrating it. So , the obvious question would be what constitutes a credible IADS ?
To have a credible IADS, you need three things:
1. Sensors: radar is obvious, but this can include other detection systems like IR sensors, passive detectors, and so on.
2. Weapons: AAA, SAMs, interceptors…you need some way of stopping people from getting into your airspace.
3. C3 network: this is what makes the whole thing integrated, providing functions like situational awareness and target de confliction.
The complexity of the whole system and the individual components depends on the volume of airspace you want control over and the perceived threat. Having, say, a few un-integrated S-75 batteries will get you nowhere. But a few S-300PMU-2 batteries coupled with a battle management radar system capable of talking to the overall EW network makes things a whole lot different. In India’s immediate neighborhood only China boasts of all these above three things.
The maximum projected weapons payload for the LCA (distributed among seven pylons) is 3.5 tonnes. In the CAS role, the LCA Mk1 will be required to target mostly hostile field artillery emplacements & probably some hostile second-echelon armoured regiments. Usage of 100kg/150kg laser-guided PGMs is the only viable option for such strikes. Similarly, for LCA Mk1s tasked with defensive counter-air missions inside friendly airspace & tactical air-superiority missions in support of CAS strikes, usage of dual-ejector racks for R-73E WVRAAMs & Derby MRAAMs along with twin external fuel-tanks is the only viable option.
The effectiveness of the SAMs that the LCA will encounter over hostile territory will depend on
1) The number of kills produced per round fired, per engagement .
2) Basic LPI capability of the SAM’s engagement radar.
3) Deployment of emitting decoys / other countermeasures to defeat geo location receivers and guided munition seekers
With no SAMs deployed in a theatre, the effectiveness of visually aimed and radar directed AAA is poor, as aircraft can attack unhindered from medium and high altitudes, out of the useful envelope of barrelled weapons. The corollary to this is , in a SAM rich environment where AAA would be absent, aircraft can attack unhindered from low altitudes, exploiting terrain masking and performance limitations in SAMs and their supporting radar systems. AAA’s are also more difficult to kill due to smart use of mobility, camouflage and emission control.
Since numbers(quantity) are important, according to India’s defence minister Manohar Parrikar, this is what the induction plan for the LCA-Tejas looks like :
To put things in context take a look at the IADS over Moscow(high value target)
Leave aside the LCA, even stealth fighter like the F 22, F 35, J 31 will find it difficult to enter this airspace.
Therefore , how good or bad the LCA is will depend what the adversary has in store in terms of SAMs , AAA, C3 and of course fighter aircraft .
Source: Qoura.Com (Debajit Sarkar, Payal Sharma), Wikipedia, HAL, Tejas.gov.in
Image Source: Google, Google Earth, HAL, Tejas.gov.in