The ‘Home-built’ Tejas took flight and Rajnath Singh becomes first defence minister to fly in a LCA!

Thursday morning, Union Defence Minister Rajnath Singh in a G-suit geared up and took a flight in the light combat aircraft (LCA) Tejas from HAL Airport in Bengaluru.

He was accompanied by Air Vice Marshal N Tiwari, who is also the Project Director, National Flight Test Centre, ADA (Aeronautical Development Agency) in Bengaluru.

Rajnath Singh minister “took a sortie” in order to boost the morale of officers who have been involved in the development of “indigenously-made Tejas”.

In a major milestone in the development of a naval version of Tejas, the aircraft had successfully carried out an “arrested landing”, a key performance demonstrating its ability to land on board an aircraft carrier.

India is only the 6th country in the world to develop a LCA on its own.

It is Designed and developed by the Aeronautical Development Agency (ADA) of the Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) and built by the Hindustan Aeronautics Ltd (HAL).

It is a single-engine, delta wing, multi-role fighter aircraft.

With final operational clearance (FoC), the IAF has inducted 16 weaponised LCAs into its combat fleet since June 2018.

Though the IAF will initially have two squadrons of Tejas with 18 fighters each, it plans to have more squadrons with an additional 83 of them as Mark-1 version.

Tejas has a tail-less compound delta-wing configuration with a single dorsal fin. This provides better high-alpha performance characteristics than conventional wing designs.

Tejas comes from the Light Combat Aircraft (LCA) programme, which began in the 1980s to replace India’s ageing MiG-21 fighters. In 2003, the LCA was officially named “Tejas”.

What are some critical technology incorporated in Tejas, lets see,

Tejas comes with MMR- Multi Mode Radar. It is a type of tm radar designed to operate in mire than one mode with quick switching between various modes such as, air to air, air to ground, air to sea, terrain following or mapping.

Tejas is ‘Stealthy’

Aim if stealth is to reduced the distance at which the aircraft is detected and to bring detection range with in range of its weapons. So it can detect and shoot the enemy fighter without being detected.

Tejas is extremely small in size, the smallest 4th generation fighter and has a low Radar Cross Section.

Materials used in built are bad reflectors if radar.

Armed with AESA radar and Astra BVR missiles withb90-100kms range.

LCA Tejas will detect intruding enemy fighters like F16, JK17s and launch BVR missiles before it is detected and those fighters will have hard time to know what has hit them.

The two variants of Tejas are being developed,

The LCA Mk 1 (a) will have improved serviceability, faster weapon loading time, enhanced survivability, bettter electronic warfare suit and AESA radar significantly enhancing its capability.

The LCA Mk 2 will be a bigger aircraft (1.6 meters longer) with a wider wing span (0.6 meter). It will have more powerful GE 414 engine. Because of size and power the aircraft will be able to carry much more load. Its weight will go up from 4 tonne to 6.5 tonne.

As of now, 40 Mk 1 and 83 Mk1 (a) have been ordered by IAF. The orders for Mk 2 will be placed as and when the aircraft starts flying.

The LCA Mk 1 (a) will fly in 2022, according to the current schedule.

The officials had previously opined that the production line needs to be enhanced substantially to deliver the aircraft to IAF. The HAL has managed to achieve a rate of eight aircraft per year as against 16 to 17 produced by big manufacturers.

Now considering this Modi government has tapped in Private companies to boost production of Tejas.

Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL) has outsourced significant works on the light combat aircraft (LCA) Tejas Mark 1A to companies like Larsen and Toubro, Dynamatic Technologies and Alpha Designs.

This development indicates that HAL will now be more of a systems integrator, with private companies playing a major role in the manufacturing of fighter aircraft and other aviation assets, including helicopters.

With the arrivals of Apache and Rafales ready to be inducted, now Tejas ready to get operational clearance, Indian armed forces and our Sky warriors are becoming stronger than ever. The IAF motto, is gaining true meaning,

Nabha Sparsham Deeptham

‘Touch the sky with glory’

Dr Sindhu Prashanth