HAL Tejas

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Tejas
IAF Tejas full size (32941198511).jpg
Tejas taking off for demo at Aero India 2017
Role Multirole light fighter
National origin India
Manufacturer Hindustan Aeronautics Limited
Design group Aeronautical Development Agency
Aircraft Research and Design Centre (HAL)
Defence Research and Development Organisation
National Aerospace Laboratories
First flight 4 January 2001[1]
Introduction 17 January 2015[2]
Status In production[3]
Primary user Indian Air Force
Produced 2001–present
Number built 37 as of March 2020[4]
Developed into HAL Tejas Mark 2
HAL TEDBF

The HAL Tejas is an Indian single-engine multirole light fighter designed by the Aeronautical Development Agency (ADA) in collaboration with Aircraft Research and Design Centre (ARDC) of Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL) for the Indian Air Force and Indian Navy.[5] It came from the Light Combat Aircraft (LCA) programme, which began in the 1980s to replace India's ageing MiG-21 fighters.[6] In 2003, the LCA was officially named "Tejas".[7]

Tejas has a tail-less compound delta-wing configuration with a single vertical stabilizer. This provides better high-alpha performance characteristics than conventional wing designs.[8] Its wing root leading edge has a sweep of 50 degrees, the outer wing leading edge has a sweep of 62.5 degrees, and trailing edge has a forward sweep of four degrees. It integrates technologies such as relaxed static stability, fly-by-wire flight control system, multi-mode radar, integrated digital avionics system and composite material structures.[9] It is the smallest and lightest in its class of contemporary supersonic combat aircraft.[10]

The Tejas is the second supersonic fighter developed by HAL after the HAL HF-24 Marut. Production of the Tejas Mark 1 for the Indian Air Force (IAF) began in 2016. The IAF plans to procure 324 aircraft in all three variants - Mark 1, Mark 1A and Mark 2.[11] The first Tejas IAF unit, No. 45 Squadron IAF Flying Daggers was formed on 1 July 2016 with two aircraft. As of 2016 indigenous content in the Tejas Mark 1 was 59.7% by value and 75.5% by number of line replaceable units.[12]

The first batch of 40 Mark 1 aircraft consists of 16 Initial Operational Clearance (IOC) standard aircraft that were delivered in early 2019.[13] The delivery of the second batch of 16 Full Operational Clearance (FOC) standard aircraft commenced in late 2019 and led to the formation of the second Tejas squadron—No. 18 Squadron IAF Flying Bullets—in Sulur on 27 May 2020.[14][15] The IAF will also receive eight Tejas twin-seat trainer aircraft.[16] The IAF has placed an order for an additional 83 aircraft, which are to be delivered in the upgraded Mark 1A standard.[17] By the time these first 123 are delivered, the Tejas Mark 2 is expected to be ready for series production by 2026–27.[18]

Development[edit]

Origins[edit]

In 1969, right after the induction of HF-24 Marut, the Aeronautics Committee of the Government of India recommended that the Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL) should design and develop a new fighter around a proven engine as some of the Air Staff Requirements (ASR) set for the Marut are not met. Based on the recommendation, HAL began design studies with the IAF's new ASR, which called for an air superiority fighter with secondary ground attack - close air support capabilities dubbed as 'Tactical Air Support Aircraft'. The HAL completed design studies for the new Tactical Air Support Aircraft in 1975, but the project fell through due to the inability to procure the selected "proven engine".[19]

In 1983, Government of India established the LCA project with the initial goal to replace the ageing IAF fighters by early 1990s, especially the MiG-21 variants, which had been the mainstay of the IAF since the 1970s. The "Long Term Re-Equipment Plan 1981" noted that most of the IAF fighters were approaching the end of their service lives by the early-1990s, and that by 1995, the IAF would be 40 percent short of the aircraft needed to fill its projected force structure requirements.[20]

In 1984, the Government of India established Aeronautical Development Agency (ADA) to manage the LCA programme. The ADA was entrusted with the design and development of LCA while HAL, a national consortium of over 100 defence laboratories, industrial organisations, and academic institutions, chosen as the principal contractor.[21] The government's "self-reliance" goals for the LCA included the three most sophisticated and challenging systems: the Fly-by-wire (FBW) flight control system, multi-mode pulse-doppler radar, and afterburning turbofan engine.[22]

The IAF's ASR for the LCA were not finalised until October 1985. This delay caused uncertainty in the original schedule which called for first flight in April 1990 and service entry in 1995; however, it also gave the ADA time to establish national R&D and industrial resources, recruit personnel, create infrastructure, and to identify which technologies could be developed locally and which would need to be imported.[19][23]

The project definition phase was commenced in October 1987 with France's Dassault-Breguet Aviation as consultant. Dassault-Breguet's expertise was mainly utilised in the design and system integration of the Tejas and this phase was completed in September 1988.[23][24] In 1988, Dassault had offered an analogue flight control system for the LCA, but the ADA insisted on having quadruplex digital FBW flight control system.[25]

LCA programme[edit]

LCA Tejas Production Partners of HAL

In 1989, a review committee was formed to study the feasibility of LCA programme, which recommended that the project could be undertaken.[26] A two-stage full-scale engineering development (FSED) process was opted for the development of LCA.[26] In 1990, the design was finalised, a small tailless delta wing design with relaxed static stability which incorporates "control configured vehicle" concept and digital FBW flight control system for enhanced manoeuvrability.[27][26] Kota Harinarayana was the original Programme Director and Chief Designer for the Tejas Programme.[28][29] In 1992, the LCA National Control Law (CLAW) team was set up by the National Aeronautics Laboratory (now called National Aerospace Laboratories) to develop India's own state of the art FBW flight control system for the Tejas and Lockheed Martin was selected as the consultant.[30] In 1998, Lockheed Martin's consultancy was terminated due to the US embargo in response to India's second nuclear tests in May of that year.[31]

The Phase 1 of the LCA Programme was commenced in June 1993, which focused on "proof of concept" and comprised design, development and testing of two technology demonstrator (TD) aircraft, named TD-1 and TD-2.[32] This would be followed by the production of two prototypes (PV-1 and PV-2).[33] The NAL's CLAW team completed the integration of the flight control laws with the flight control system software performing flawlessly for over 50 hours of pilot testing on TD-1, and the TD-1 finally flew with an indigenous FBW flight control system on its maiden flight on 4 January 2001.[19] FSED Process Phase-I of LCA Programme was successfully completed in 2001 and Phase 2 of the programme was commenced in November 2001 which envisaged the manufacturing of three more prototypes - a production standard air force variant, a naval variant and a trainer variant, in addition to the replacement of imported Line-replaceable units (LRU) with indigenous LRUs.[32][34]

Another critical technology needed for LCA was the multi-mode radar (MMR). Initially, the Ericsson/Ferranti PS-05/A I/J-band multi-function radar, also used on Saab's JAS 39 Gripen, was intended to be used.[35] However, after examining other radars in the early 1990s, the Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) became confident that local development was possible.[36] HAL's Hyderabad division and the DRDO's Electronics and Radar Development Establishment (LRDE) laboratory were selected to jointly lead the MMR programme, and work commenced in 1997.[37] The Centre for Airborne Systems (CABS) was responsible for the MMR's test programme. Between 1996 and 1997, CABS converted the surviving HAL/HS-748M Airborne Surveillance Post into a testbed for the LCA's avionics and radar.[38]

By mid-2002, the MMR had reportedly suffered major delays and cost escalations. By early 2005, only the air-to-air look-up and look-down modes — two basic modes — were confirmed to have been successfully tested. In May 2006, it was revealed that the performance of several modes being tested "fell short of expectations."[39] The problem with the radar was mainly attributed to the compatibility issue arose between the LRDE/HAL multi mode radar and the LRDE's advanced signal processor module. Using an "off-the-shelf" foreign radar as an interim option was being considered.[37][40][41]

Tejas Technology Demonstrator in inverted flight

ADA met with success in the development of two of the five key technologies identified at the beginning of the LCA programme to develop an indigenous fighter aircraft. The successful endeavours were the development and manufacturing of carbon-fibre composite structures and skins, and a modern glass cockpit. ADA has a profitable commercial spin-off in its Autolay integrated automated software for designing 3-D laminated composite elements (which has been licensed to both Airbus and Infosys).[42][43] However, the development of the other two critical technologies (the propulsion system and the jet fuel starter) had lagged behind and the development of a multi-mode pulse-doppler radar, once delayed was completed as the Active electronically scanned array (AESA) radar and is currently undergoing flight trials.[44][34][22] India's self-reliance goal oriented development for the LCA programme has considerably increased the indigenous components in Tejas and fostered the booming aviation industry in the country.[45][46]

In October 2015, IAF Air Chief Marshal Arup Raha confirmed that the air force plans to acquire 83 more Tejas aircraft in upgraded Mark 1A configuration, in addition to the 40 Tejas Mark 1 aircraft already on order.[17] In 2021, the Cabinet Committee on Security, approved the 2015 agreement to procure 73 Tejas Mark 1A, and an additional 10 Tejas Mark 1A Trainer aircraft, at a cost of 45,696 crore (US$6.4 billion), along with 1,202 crore (US$170 million) of supporting infrastructure, as part of a 47,000 crore (US$6.6 billion) order.[47] HAL is setting up a second assembly line in collaboration with private industry to increase the production rate of the LCA from current eight to sixteen aircraft per year.[48] According to HAL, the first Tejas Mark 1A could fly by 2022 with serial production starting in 2023–24. The first squadron of Tejas Mark 1A could be delivered by 2025, and delivery of all 83 aircraft could be completed before 2029.[49][50]

Prototypes and testing[edit]

In March 2005, the IAF placed an order for 20 aircraft, with a similar purchase of another 20 aircraft to follow. All 40 were to be equipped with the F404-GE-IN20 engine.[51][52] In December 2006, the Indian Air Force formed an "LCA Induction Team" to manage the aircraft's service introduction.[53]

On 25 April 2007, the first Limited Series Production (LSP-1) Tejas performed its maiden flight, achieving a speed of Mach 1.1 (1,347.5 km/h; 837.3 mph).[23] Weapon trials began in the same year, by test firing an R-73 close combat missile.[54] Test flying with the Litening targeting pod was also carried out in the same year.[55] The Tejas completed its crucial high altitude trials at Leh, and first phase of hot weather trials at Nagpur early in 2008, using the LSP-2 and PV-3 prototypes.[56][57] The first flight of the trainer variant was in November 2009.[58] In December 2009, the government authorized ₹8,000 crores to begin the production for the Indian Air Force and Indian Navy. The IAF ordered 20 additional Tejas fighters after the DAC cleared the plan.[59]

On 23 April 2010, LSP-3 flew with a hybrid version of the Israeli Elta EL/M-2032 multi-mode radar;[23][60] in June 2010, LSP-4 made its maiden flight in an IAF IOC configuration.[23][61] By June 2010, the Tejas had completed the second phase of hot weather trials in an IOC configuration, with the weapons system and sensors integrated to check the performance of the systems in high temperature operational conditions up to 45 °C (113 °F).[62] Sea trials were also carried out in the same year to assess radar performance in the air-to-air and air-to-sea modes, at various altitudes. Flutter vibration tests were also carried out in different configurations at high AoA to assess the structural integrity across the flight envelope.[63] LSP-5 with IOC standard equipment started flight trials on 19 November 2010.[64]

Tejas completed its air to ground weapon trials in 3 phases - unguided munition trials in 2009 and advanced weapon trials involving precision guided munitions in 2012 and 2014.[65][66][67]

In the second half of 2012, the Tejas fleet was grounded for over three months and the ejection system had to be modified to resume flight tests by the end of 2012.[68] In 2013, Tejas conducted an inflight engine relight test at high altitude to assess engine response on flameout, a critical parameter for IOC-II clearance.[69] By 27 November 2013 Tejas programme had completed 2,418 test flights.[70][71]

After the successful completion of laboratory trials, Tejas Mark 1 platform will start flight trials with DRDO developed on-board oxygen generation system in 2020.[72]

Operational clearance[edit]

LCA Tejas maiden air-to-air refuelling flight

On 10 January 2011, IOC-I was awarded by Defence Minister A K Antony to Chief of Air Staff Air Chief Marshal P V Naik.[73] The IAF raised the first squadron in Bangalore to iron out issues with ADA and HAL, and eventually based these fighters at Sulur Air Force Station, Coimbatore in the southern state of Tamil Nadu. The No. 45 Squadron IAF "Flying Daggers" was the first to get their MiG-21s replaced by Tejas aircraft at the base.[74] Tejas' FOC was repeatedly delayed since 2011.[75][76][77]

To ease up the process of FOC, an interim IOC-II was issued to Tejas on 17 January 2015, which allowed the aircraft to be flown by regular IAF pilots and begin squadron service.[78] The IOC-II also permits the aircraft to carry payload close to three tons, including laser-guided 500 kg bombs and R-73 missile close combat missiles, withstand turns up to +7 g (which was limited to +6g in IOC-I), reach angle of attack of 24 degrees (from 17 degrees initially, in IOC-I), and have an operational radius of 400–500 km.[79][80][81][82]

The FOC campaign began in December 2013, with deadline set to 2014, but this and subsequent deadlines were missed. In February 2016, Tejas (LSP-7) test-fired a Derby beyond visual range air to air missile on Ballistic Non-Guided (BNG) mode in Jamnagar as part of the FOC mandate.[83] The aircraft was also scheduled to fire a Python-5 Close Combat Missile (CCM) as part of the FOC trials. On 12 May 2017, Tejas successfully test fired a Derby Air-to-Air BVR missile in radar guided mode scoring a direct hit on the maneuvering target.[84] The missile launch was performed in lock-on after launch mode.[85] By 19 November 2017, HAL had delivered five Tejas in IOC-II standard to the IAF and have flown more than 600 sorties.[86] In February 2018, as part of the FOC campaign Tejas carried out a "hot refuelling" - refuelling with engine running, which shorten the turnaround time between sorties.[87] In September 2018, Tejas successfully completed mid-air refuelling trials required for the aircraft to obtain FOC.[88] In January 2019, HAL received permission from CEMILAC to start production of FOC standard Tejas.[89]

On 20 February 2019, during the Aero India 2019 show, FOC was formally awarded to the Tejas.[90] After the release of the Drawing Applicability List and SOPs by the Centre for Military Airworthiness and Certification (CEMILAC), the first series production aircraft in FOC standard (SP-21) took 12 months to complete production and flown on 17 March 2020.[91][92] The Tejas Mark 1 in FOC standard comes with aerial refuelling probe compatible with both NATO and Russian tankers that will allow flights of over 8 hours, an additional 725 litres (159 imp gal; 192 US gal) centre line drop tank with pressurised refuelling, an improvement over the existing 1,200 litres (260 imp gal; 320 US gal) and 800 litres (180 imp gal; 210 US gal) external fuel tanks that come with the Tejas Mark 1 IOC variants, cleared for 28 degree angle of attack and +9 g limit, capability to fire Derby BVR missile, Python-5 close combat missile and a GSh-23 twin-barrelled gun.[81][93] Delivery of the next 15 Tejas FOC aircraft after SP-21 will be completed by financial year 2020–21, due to improvements in manufacturing process and feedback from the Tejas IOC program.[94] The second IAF Tejas squadron No.18 Flying Bullets was formed at Sulur Air Force Station on 27 May 2020 with the first four serial production FOC aircraft.[15][95]

Upgrades and further development[edit]

In May 2015, the Comptroller and Auditor General of India (CAG) identified a number of shortcomings in the then-delivered Tejas Mark 1 IOC configuration aircraft viz, lack of integrated self protection jammer (SPJ), reduced internal fuel capacity and endurance, increased weight and reduced speed, inadequate pilot protection etc., in addition to the delay in delivery and lack of production trainer aircraft.[96][97] A few of these shortcomings, including lack of SPJ and endurance are addressed in Tejas Mark 1 FOC configuration aircraft itself.[98][99] The Tejas Mark 1 FOC configuration aircraft have in-flight refueling capability and an advanced electronic warfare suite consisting of an integrated SPJ, radar warning receiver (RWR), laser warning receiver (LWR), missile approach warning system (MAWS), and a chaff and flare dispenser.[100] These shortcomings, such as the increased weight and reduced speed would be addressed in the upgraded Tejas Mark 1A, while shortcomings identified by CAG that require redesign and structural modification such as increasing internal fuel capacity, are planned to be rectified in the Tejas Mark 2.[101] A second production line for Tejas was opened in 2021 to alleviate delay in delivery, production rate would be increased from 8 aircraft per year to 16 aircraft per year.[102][103] A third production line would be set up by 2023–24, coinciding with the delivery of first production trainer variant.[47]

The Tejas Mark 1A, which comes with more than 40 improvements over the Mark 1 variant, is expected to hit production line in 2023–24.[104] The upgraded Mark 1A aircraft will retain basic Mark 1 airframe while featuring a new avionic suite centered on EL/M-2052 AESA Radar and Uttam AESA Radar, DARE Unified Electronic Warfare Suite (UEWS), an externally mounted self protection jammer (SPJ) for enhanced survivability, IFR capability and OBOGS developed by Defence Bioengineering and Electromedical Laboratory (DEBEL) for endurance and an expanded weapon suite consisting of Astra BVRAAM and ASRAAM.[105][106] The upgraded Tejas Mark 1A will have a reduced turnaround time.[107]

The HAL Tejas design has further developed into the Tejas Mark 2, incorporating a more powerful General Electric F414 INS6 engine, canards and other design changes to fit the original ASR of the IAF.[108] The Tejas Mark 2 which is expected to be rolled out in 2022, will have increased payload carrying capacity and internal fuel capacity, more external hardpoints, improved combat range, a completely redesigned cockpit, and an integrated IRST system, in addition to the AESA radar.[109] Defence Institute of Advanced Technology (DIAT) is developing aircraft health and usage monitoring systems (HUMS) to integrate various sensors onboard Tejas Mark 2.[110] The first flight of Tejas Mark 2 is expected to be in 2023 with series production to begin by 2026.[111]

Naval variant[edit]

LCA Navy maiden landing on INS Vikramaditya

The Naval LCA programme was commenced in 2003, after the successful initial flight testing of the air force variant.[112] The Naval LCA (N-LCA) Programme was envisaged to complete in two phases - Phase 1 and Phase 2.[112] Under Phase 1 two technology demonstrators were developed - two-seat NP-1 (Naval Prototype 1) and single-seat NP-2 (Naval Prototype 2) based on Tejas Mark 1 design to carryout carrier suitability certification and weapon integration.[112] Under Phase 2, two single-seat prototypes were planned to be built, based on the Tejas Mark 2 design, with further design optimisation and integration of a more powerful General Electric F414 INS6 engine.[112] The Indian Navy has a requirement for 50 Tejas aircraft and the first prototype, a twin-seater, NP-1 was rolled out in July 2010.[113] The naval LCA made its first flight almost two years after being rolled out, on 27 April 2012.[114] In December 2012, the Indian Navy expressed interest in procuring eight Tejas aircraft.[115]

In December 2014, the LCA Navy successfully conducted ski-jump trials at SBTF, INS Hansa. The navy variant has a special flight control law mode. It controls a hands-free take-off, which reduces the pilot workload, as the ramp launches the aircraft on an upward flight path.[116]

In December 2016, the Indian Navy (IN) opted out of the programme, with the cited reason being the 'overweight' of the naval variant, and issued a fresh RFI for the immediate procurement of 57 Multi-Role Carrier Borne Fighters (MRCBF).[117][118][119] The once stalled programme was revived in 2018, on special interest of the then defence minister Nirmala Sitharaman.[120] The flight tests were resumed with NP-1 and NP-2, for attaining technological maturity of the carrier based fighter.[121] In 2018, the naval variant NP-2 conducted its first "taxi-in" test to validate the performance of arrestor hook system and by September 2019, two-seater NP-1 successfully carried out the first arrested landing at the SBTF in Goa.[122]

On 12 November 2019, a naval prototype successfully carried out a night arrested landing after completing a series of launch and recovery at SBTF in the daytime.[123][124][125] On 11 January 2020, the single-seat naval prototype NP-2 successfully carried out its first arrested landing on the aircraft-carrier INS Vikramaditya and performed its first ski-jump assisted take-off from the aircraft-carrier, on the very next day.[126][127][128] In the course of testing, ADA has demonstrated the technology for hands free automatic take-off and landing system, which will be carried over to other platforms currently under development, such as TEDBF and AMCA.[129]

In April 2020, DRDO-ADA announced that they are working on a new naval fighter according to the Indian Navy's MRCBF requirement floated in 2016 to replace the current fleet of MIG-29K/KUB carrier-based fighters.[130][131] The new naval fighter unveiled at the Aero India airshow 2021 turned out to be an entirely new design, twin engine, medium weight class fighter, now called Twin Engine Deck Based Fighter (TEDBF).[132] The experience gained in the N-LCA programme will help in the development of TEDBF.[133]

Program costs[edit]

Development costs[edit]

  • LCA Programme - 9,063.96 crore (US$1.3 billion) (up to March 2020)[134]
  • Kaveri engine programme - 2,032 crore (US$280 million)[134]
  • 1,202 crore (US$170 million) additional design and development (Jan 2021)[135]

Flyaway costs[edit]

  • 146.2 crore (equivalent to 188 crore or US$26 million in 2019) for IOC Mark 1 (2014)[136][137]
  • 156 crore (equivalent to 282 crore or US$39 million in 2019) for FOC Mark 1 (2010)[138][137]
  • 303 crore (US$42 million) for Mark 1A and 309 crore (US$43 million) for export variant (2021)[139][140][141]

Design[edit]

Overview[edit]

The Tejas is a single-engine multirole fighter which features a tailless, compound delta wing design which confers better close-combat, high-speed, and high-alpha performance characteristics than comparable cruciform-wing designs. Tejas is designed with "relaxed static stability" for enhanced manoeuvrability and agility. Originally intended to serve as an air superiority aircraft with a secondary ground-attack role, its flexibility permits a variety of guided air-to-surface and anti-shipping weapons to be integrated for multirole and multimission capabilities.[142] The tailless, compound-delta planform is designed to be small and lightweight.[143] This also minimises the control surfaces needed (no tail-planes or fore-planes, just a single vertical tail-fin). Extensive wind tunnel testing on scale models and complex computational fluid dynamics analysis have optimised the aerodynamic configuration for minimum supersonic drag, a low wing-loading, and high rates of roll and pitch.[142]

HAL Tejas airshow demo

The maximum payload capability of Tejas is 5,300 kg (11,684 lb).[144] All weapons are carried on one or more of seven hardpoints with total capacity of greater than 5,000 kg: three stations under each wing and one on the under-fuselage centreline. An eighth offset station beneath the port-side intake trunk can carry a variety of pods like FLIR, IRST, laser rangefinder/designator, as can the centre line under-fuselage station and inboard pairs of wing stations.[31][145] Auxiliary fuel tanks of 725, 800 and 1,200 litres can be carried on three wet hardpoints under the fuselage and wing to extend range. An aerial refuelling probe on the starboard side of the forward fuselage can extend range and endurance.[146][147] RAFAEL's I-Derby ER fire-and-forget missile serves as the Tejas' initial beyond visual range air-to-air missile,[148] while efforts are underway to integrate Astra beyond visual range air-to-air missile on Tejas.[149] The BrahMos-NG supersonic cruise missile is being developed for the Tejas.[150]

Stealth features have been designed into Tejas.[151] Being small provides an inherent degree of visual stealth, a Y-duct inlet which shields the engine compressor blades from probing radar waves reduces the frontal radar cross section (RCS), the airframe's high usage of composites and the application of radar-absorbent material (RAM) coatings are intended to minimise its susceptibility to detection and tracking.[45]

Airframe[edit]

Tejas is constructed of aluminium-lithium alloys, carbon-fibre composites, and titanium alloys.[152] Composite materials make up 45% of the airframe by weight and 90% by surface area.[153] Upper and lower wing skins are manufactured from a single piece of carbon-fibre reinforced polymer. Wing spars and ribs are also made out of carbon composites.[154] The construction of elevons, tailfin, rudder, air brakes and landing gear doors use co-cured and co-bonded manufacturing techniques. The radome is made out of Kevlar, while the fin tip is made out of glass-fibre reinforced plastic.[155] The extensive use of Composite materials in airframe not only makes Tejas lighter but also gives a high strength to weight ratio and reduces RCS compared to an all-metal design.[156] The LCA's percentage employment of carbon-fibre composites is one of the highest among contemporary aircraft of its class.[157] Apart from making the plane much lighter, there are also fewer joints or rivets, which increases the aircraft's reliability and lowers its susceptibility to structural fatigue cracks.[158] The wing and fin of the compound-delta aircraft are of carbon-fibre-reinforced polymer, and were designed to provide a minimum weight structure and to serve as integral fuel tanks.[159][160] The tailfin is a monolithic honeycomb structure piece, reducing the manufacturing cost by 80% compared to the "subtractive" or "deductive" method, involving the carving out of a block of titanium alloy by a computerized numerically controlled machine. No other manufacturer is known to have made fins out of a single piece.[161]

Underside of HAL Tejas

The naval variant have nose droop to provide improved view for carrier landings, and wing leading–edge vortex controllers (LEVCON) which could be deflected to 25 degree downward angle and up to 30 degree upward angle to increase lift and reduce airspeed during approach.[162] The LEVCONs are control surfaces that extend from the wing-root leading edge and thus afford better low-speed handling for the LCA Navy, which would otherwise be compromised by the increased drag that results from its delta-wing design. The LEVCONs should also increase controllability at high angles of attack (AoA).[163] The naval Tejas also has a strengthened spine, a longer and stronger undercarriage, arrestor hook system for carrier landing and powered nose wheel steering for deck manoeuvrability.[164][165] The Tejas trainer variant will have "aerodynamic commonality" with the two-seat naval aircraft design.[166]

Avionics[edit]

The Tejas has a night vision goggles compatible glass cockpit equipped with a domestically-developed head-up display (HUD) by Central Scientific Instruments Organization (CSIO), three full colour 5 in x 5 in multi-function displays and two Smart Standby Display Units. The displays provide information on key flight systems and controls on a need-to-know basis, along with basic flight and tactical data. The pilot interacts with onboard systems through a multi-functional keyboard and several selection panels. The HUD of Tejas provides essential flight data and combat information which enables the pilot to take tactical advantage in air combat. The Tejas has a "get-you-home" panel with fail-operational/fail-safe air data computer manufactured by Bharat Electronics Limited that uses computational intelligence based autoland system to provide the pilot with essential flight information in case of an emergency. The CSIO-developed HUD, Elbit-furnished DASH IV Helmet mounted display and sight (HMDS) with night-vision goggles compatible glass cockpit,[167] and hands-on-throttle-and-stick (HOTAS) controls reduce pilot workload and increase situation awareness by allowing access to navigation and weapon cueing information with minimal need to spend time "head down" in the cockpit.[168][169] For life support, Tejas Mark 1 relies on conventional liquid oxygen LOX system while an onboard oxygen-generation system (OBOGS) has been developed for Tejas Mark 1A.[170][4] Tejas uses Martin-Baker 16LG zero-zero ejection seat.[155] DRDO integrated an indigenous canopy severance system (CSS) in the Tejas which allows the pilot to eject safely.[171] The ADA has developed a virtual reality assisted cockpit simulator for Tejas.[172]

The first 40 production Tejas Mark 1 are equipped with a hybrid version of the EL/M-2032 radar.[168] The first batch of 20 Tejas Mark 1A will be equipped with improved version of EL/M-2052 AESA radar developed jointly by Elta Systems and HAL. The remaining 63 fighter aircraft will come equipped with domestically developed LRDE Uttam AESA radar, which is currently undergoing flight trials.[173][174]

The Tejas Mark 1 has an indigenous Electronic warfare (EW) suite developed by the Defence Avionics Research Establishment (DARE) with support from the Defence Electronics Research Laboratory, to enhance the combat survivability of the aircraft. This EW suite, known as Mayavi, includes a radar warning receiver (RWR), integrated self-protection jammer, chaff, jaff and flares dispenser.[98] An advanced EW system developed by DARE known as Unified Electronic Warfare suite (UEWS) comes in Tejas Mark 1A. The UEWS suite have Electronic Countermeasures (ECM) - Electronic counter-countermeasure (ECCM) capabilities, emitter detection and geo location function, Digital radio frequency memory (DRFM) based jamming and deception capabilities and a wide band RWR with 360 degree threat detection capabilities.[107][175] In addition to the integrated UEWS EW suite, Tejas Mark 1A will come equipped with Elta EL/L 8222WB wide band advanced SPJ pod already equipped on Su-30MKI fleet of IAF.[176] The identification friend or foe (IFF) system on Tejas is developed by Centre for Airborne Systems (CABS).[31][145] The Tejas Mark 1A will have indigenous Software-defined radio based tactical data link for secured communication and network-centric warfare capabilities supported by IAF's AFNet digital information grid.[47][177]

The Tejas can be equipped with portable podded sensors like electro optical/infrared (EO/IR) sensor pod, forward looking infrared (FLIR) - laser designator pod and ECM pod, Litening III is the primary targeting-cum-reconnaissance pod installed on Tejas.[178] The DRDO has developed an advanced airborne infrared targeting and navigation pod called Laser designator pod (LDP) to be used on Tejas.[179] Tejas has an integrated vehicle health-monitoring system for status monitoring, fault detection and analysis, diagnostics, and prognostics to reduces maintenance time and cost while improving safety.[100][180] Tejas uses various form of onboard navigation instruments like tactical air navigation (TACAN) system, terrain referenced navigation system (TERPROM), VHF omnidirectional rangeinstrument landing system (VOR–ILS), DARE developed enhanced ground proximity warning system (EGPWS) and ring laser gyroscope based inertial navigation system integrated with satellite guidance from Research Centre Imarat (RCI).[181]

Flight control system[edit]

Tejas (SP-07) of No. 45 Squadron IAF Flying Daggers in inverted flight

Since the Tejas is a relaxed static stability design, it is equipped with Aeronautical Development Establishment developed full authority quadruplex fly-by-wire digital automatic flight control system with fail-operational/fail-safe safety feature for automatic manoeuvre limiting and to ease pilot handling. The Tejas flight control system is operated with dual redundant modular MIL-STD-1553B standard databus and open architecture Digital Flight Control Computer developed by DARE. The mission computer of Tejas is developed by Solid State Physics Laboratory.[182] The Tejas aerodynamic configuration is based on a pure delta-wing layout with shoulder-mounted wings. Its flight control surfaces are controlled by hybrid electro-hydraulic actuators through the digital flight control computer.[183] The wing's outer leading edge incorporates three-section slats which allow to operate at a higher angle of attack, while the inboard sections have additional slats to generate vortex lift over the inner wing and high-energy air-flow along the tail fin to enhance high-AoA stability and prevent departure from controlled flight. The wing trailing edge is occupied by two-segment elevons to provide pitch and roll control. The only empennage-mounted control surfaces are the single-piece rudder and two airbrakes located in the upper rear part of the fuselage, one each on either side of the fin.[184]

Propulsion[edit]

Developing an indigenous jet engine for Tejas was one of the five self-reliance goals identified at the beginning of the LCA Programme. A programme led by the Gas Turbine Research Establishment (GTRE) to design and develop an indigenous powerplant (Kaveri) was launched as early as in 1989.[34] However it was evident that developing a jet engine in time to equip Tejas from prototype phase was impractical, hence procurement of off the shelf General Electric F404-GE-F2J3 afterburning turbofan engine was considered as an interim option.[185] In 1998, after Indian nuclear tests, US sanctions blocked sales of the F404, leading to a greater emphasis on the domestic Kaveri jet engine. As delay occurred in Kaveri programme, in 2004, General Electric was awarded a US$105 million contract for 17 uprated F404-GE-IN20 engines to power the eight air force and two naval prototypes;[186] deliveries began in 2006.[187] In 2008, HAL placed an order for additional 24 F404 IN20 engines to power production Tejas Mark 1 fighters.[188]

The lack of adequate thrust is the main shortcoming and obstacle in integrating Kaveri engine on Tejas, so far achieved only 81 kN thrust against the desired goal of 90-95 kN thrust.[189][190] The Tejas Mark 1 is currently powered by F404 IN20 engine, Mark 1A variant is also expected to be powered by the same powerplant while heavier Tejas Mark 2 will be powered by F414 INS6 engine.[191]

Operational history[edit]

The formation of the first Tejas-equipped squadron started in July 2011. The Tejas Mark 1 entered service with No. 45 Squadron IAF (Flying Daggers) based at the Aircraft and Systems Testing Establishment at HAL, Bangalore on 1 July 2016 before being moved to Sulur Air Force Station in Coimbatore.[192] The squadron initially had four aircraft. The IAF's Aircraft & Systems Testing Establishment was to receive four aircraft already built including two development aircraft.[193] The Tejas Mark 1 made its international debut on 21 January 2016, at the 4th edition of Bahrain International Air Show.[194]

HAL Tejas (LSP-07) firing Python-5 missile

In June 2017, HAL stated that it expects to have delivered 123 Tejas aircraft to the Indian Air Force by 2024–25. HAL outlined a three–pronged approach to accelerate aircraft production—it would build an additional assembly line, reuse the Hawk assembly line, and outsource major components to the private sector.[195]

The Tejas Mark 1 has participated in several military exercises, most recent being Gagan Shakti 2018 and Vayu Shakti 2019, after which the Indian Air Force Air Marshal Birender Singh Dhanoa commended its reliability and precision of air-to-ground payload delivery.[196] The 45 Squadron of Tejas Mark 1 has successfully flown over 1,500 sorties during trials. During Exercise Gagan Shakti 2018, the eight Tejas Mark 1 deployed each flew six sorties per day.[197]

Group Captain Samrath Dhankhar of the Indian Air Force, the commanding officer of No. 45 Squadron "Flying Daggers" which flies Tejas Mark 1, claimed that DASH IV HMDS on Tejas enables the pilot to exploit full potential of HOBS close combat missiles by looking at the target.[198] The second Tejas Mark 1 squadron, Squadron 18, was formed at Sulur on 27 May 2020.[199][200][201]

IAF plans to deploy the No. 45 Squadron "Flying Dagger" on Srinagar airbase by 2022 onwards.[202]

On 27 April 2021, Tejas Mark 1 successfully test fired Python-5 high off-boresight (HOBS) close combat missile and further validated enhanced capability of Derby BVR missile. Both missiles scored direct hits on targets during the trial.[203]

Potential operators[edit]

On 21 November 2016, the Indian Ministry of Defence proposed exporting the Tejas, with preliminary talks taking place with several friendly countries.[204] It was reported in March 2020 that HAL planned to set up logistic facilities in Indonesia, Malaysia, Sri Lanka and Vietnam as part of potentially exporting the Tejas.[205]

Malaysia[edit]

In January 2019, the Royal Malaysian Air Force issued a request for information to HAL regarding the Tejas for their light combat aircraft requirement.[206] In April 2021, unnamed sources stated that a Malaysian Air Force team is expected to visit Bengalaru to assess the aircraft.[207] The main contenders for Malaysia's Light Combat Aircraft (LCA)/Lead-In Fighter Trainer (LIFT) are China/Pakistan joint venture JF-17 and South Korea's KA-50 along with HAL Tejas.[208]

On 22 June 2021, Malaysia released their tender for 18 Fighter Lead In Trainer-Light Combat Aircraft (FLIT-LCA) that includes the Tejas.[209]

Sri Lanka[edit]

It has been reported that Sri Lanka has shown interest in purchasing Tejas to replace its aging fleets of IAI Kfir and Chengdu J-7 aircraft.[210] The programme is for acquisition of 8 to 12 aircraft and is to be pursued through a government-government basic agreement.[211] In 2021, it was decided to overhaul Kfirs instead of buying new aircraft which would cost around $40 million per unit compared to $49 million for overhauling the five kfirs [212]

United Arab Emirates[edit]

The Tejas has solicited interest from United Arab Emirates (UAE) with some discussions made during a visit by UAE Minister of State and Defence Mohammed Ahmed Al Bowardi Al Falacy during a state visit in October 2018 as part of growing defence relations between India and UAE.[213]

United States[edit]

In December 2020, in response to the US Navy's request for information (RFI) for its Undergraduate Jet Training System (UJTS), HAL offered its Tejas-LiFT as a contender to replace US Navy's T-45 Goshawk.[214]

Variants[edit]

First ski-jump take-off by Naval Tejas NP-1 from Shore Based Test Facility, INS Hansa on 20 December 2014.

Prototypes[edit]

Aircraft already built and projected models to be built. Model designations, tail numbers and dates of first flight are shown.

Technology Demonstrators (TD)
  • TD-1 (KH2001) – 4 January 2001.[215]
  • TD-2 (KH2002) – 6 June 2002.[216]
Prototype Vehicles (PV)
  • PV-1 (KH2003) – First flight on 25 November 2003.[216]
  • PV-2 (KH2004) – First flight on 1 December 2005.[216]
  • PV-3 (KH2005) – First flight on 1 December 2006.[216]
  • PV-5 (KH-T2009) – First flight on 26 November 2009 – Fighter/Trainer variant.[216]
  • PV-6 (KH-T2010) – First flight on 8 November 2014 – Fighter/Trainer variant.[216]
Naval Prototypes (NP)
  • NP-1 (KHN-T3001) – Two-seat naval variant for carrier operations. Rolled out in July 2010.[217] NP-1 made its first flight on 27 April 2012.[216]
  • NP-2 (NAVY3002) – Single-seat naval variant. First flight on 7 February 2015 with ski-jump take-off and arrested landing required in STOBAR carrier.[218][216]
Limited Series Production (LSP) aircraft
  • LSP-1 (KH2011) – 25 April 2007. This LCA is powered by F404-F2J3 Engine.[219] It was used for Radar Cross Section (RCS) measurement at a DRDO facility in 2020.[220]
  • LSP-2 (KH2012) – 16 June 2008. This is the first LCA fitted with F404-IN20 engine.[219]
  • LSP-3 (KH2013) – 23 April 2010. The first aircraft to have the Hybrid MMR radar[60] and will be close to the IOC standard.
  • LSP-4 (KH2014) – 2 June 2010. The first aircraft that was flown in the (Mark 1) configuration that will be delivered to the Indian Air Force.[61] In addition to the Hybrid MMR, the aircraft flew with a Countermeasure Dispensing System and an identify friend or foe electronic system.[221]
  • LSP-5 (KH2015) – 19 November 2010. IOC standard, with all sensors including night lighting in the cockpit, and an auto-pilot.[222]
  • LSP-6 – Not built.[223]
  • LSP-7 (KH2017) – First flight on 9 March 2012.[224]
  • LSP-8 (KH2018) – First flight trial completed in March 2013. LSP 8 is the final version upon which production is based.[225]

Production variants[edit]

credit: Indian Defense News
HAL Tejas in FOC standard
  • Tejas Mark 1 − Single-seat operational variant for the Indian Air Force. 16 aircraft are delivered in IOC standard constituting No. 45 Squadron IAF and delivery of Tejas Mark 1 in FOC standard has begun and 18 Squadron (Flying Bullets) has been raised with the first aircraft in May 2020.[15] Delivery of balance 15 aircraft to No. 18 Squadron is expected to be completed by September 2021.[226] FOC standard Tejas Mark 1 are BVRAAM capable, with general flight envelope expansion, increased angle of attack, higher g-limit of +9 g, updated avionics and flight control software suite as well as capable of hot refueling and Aerial refueling.[227][228][93]
  • Tejas Trainer - Two-seat operational conversion trainer for the Indian Air Force; also act as LiFT (Lead-in Fighter Trainer) and ground-attack aircraft.
  • Tejas Mark 1A - Tejas Mark 1A is an enhanced Tejas Mark 1 equipped with EL/M-2052 and Uttam AESA radar, self-protection jammer, radar warning receiver, as well as being able to mount an external ECM pod[229][230][107]

Future developments[edit]

  • SPORT  - Supersonic Omni-Role Trainer (SPORT) aircraft is a two-seater Lead-in Fighter Training [LiFT] aircraft being developed from LCA Trainer Mark 1 for export purposes as light fighter.[231][232]
  • Tejas Mark 2 - or Medium Weight Fighter, is an enhanced Tejas Mark 1 design which incorporates a more powerful General Electric F414-GE-INS6 engine with 98 kN of thrust.[233][90] The Tejas Mark 2 will feature an AESA radar, an on-board oxygen generation system, and a built-in electronic warfare suite among other improvements to avionics.[234] In January 2019, Air Chief Marshal Birender Singh Dhanoa said that the IAF has committed to procure twelve squadrons of Tejas Mark 2 aircraft.[235]
  • Twin-engine deck based fighter (TEDBF) - A new twin-engine carrier based fighter variant, to be developed independently. It is a totally different program based on the requirements of the Indian Navy. The aircraft will operate from INS Vikrant and INS Vishal and is expected to replace current MiG-29K in service. Ministry of Defence approved TEDBF project in June 2020. The aircraft is expected to start flight tests from 2026.[236]
  • Omni Role Combat Aircraft (ORCA) - An air force variant of the TEDBF for the Indian Air Force.[237][238]
  • CATS MAX - The main component of HAL Combat Air Teaming System (CATS), CATS MAX will be a twin seater Tejas Mark 1A modified with CATS interface to act as the mothership of CATS components. The CATS MAX is to be crewed by a pilot and a weapon system officer (WSO, pronounced "wizzo"), with the later controlling the CATS.[239][240]

Cancelled variants[edit]

  • Tejas Mark 1 Navy - Naval Variant based on HAL Tejas Mark 1 powered by F404 engine. Cancelled in favour of new twin-engine naval fighter HAL TEDBF.[241]
  • Tejas Mark 2 Navy - Proposed naval variant based on Tejas Mark 2. Declared as cancelled in favour of HAL TEDBF.[242]
  • Tejas Trainer IN - Two-seat operational conversion trainer for the Indian Navy. Cancelled in favour of HAL TEDBF.[243]

Operators[edit]

 India

Specifications (Tejas Mark 1)[edit]

HAL Tejas drawing
Weaponry of HAL Tejas
HAL Tejas armed with weapons

Data from tejas.gov.in,[248] DRDO Techfocus,[249] Jane's All the World's Aircraft,[155] Airforce Technology,[250] and Naval Technology[251]

General characteristics

  • Crew: 1 or 2
  • Length: 13.2 m (43 ft 4 in)
  • Wingspan: 8.2 m (26 ft 11 in)
  • Height: 4.4 m (14 ft 5 in)
  • Wing area: 38.4 m2 (413 sq ft)
  • Empty weight: 6,560 kg (14,462 lb)
  • Gross weight: 9,800 kg (21,605 lb)
  • Max takeoff weight: 13,500 kg (29,762 lb) [252]
  • Fuel capacity: 2,458 kg (5,419 lb) internal; 2 × 1,200 l (260 imp gal; 320 US gal), 800 l (180 imp gal; 210 US gal) drop tank inboard, 725 l (159 imp gal; 192 US gal) drop tank under fuselage
  • Payload: 5,300 kg (11,700 lb) external stores[144]
  • Powerplant: 1 × GE 404F2/J-IN20[253] afterburning turbofan with FADEC, 53.9[253] kN (12,100 lbf) thrust dry, 90 kN (20,200 lbf) with afterburner[254][255]

Performance

  • Maximum speed: 2,220 km/h (1,380 mph, 1,200 kn)
  • Maximum speed: Mach 1.6[144]
  • Range: 1,850 km (1,150 mi, 459 nmi)
  • Combat range: 500 km (310 mi, 270 nmi) with internal tanks[256][257]
  • Ferry range: 3,200 km (1,986 mi, 1,726 nmi) with 2x external drop tanks[256]
  • Endurance: 4 hours
  • Service ceiling: 16,500 m (50,000 ft)
  • g limits: +9/−3.5[93]
  • Wing loading: 255.2 kg/m2 (52.3 lb/sq ft)
  • Thrust/weight: 0.94[258]

Armament

Avionics

See also[edit]

Related development

Related lists

References[edit]

Citations[edit]

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Bibliography[edit]

External links[edit]

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