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Tejas Light Combat Supersonic Fighter, India

Key Data

Tejas fighter jet

The Tejas single-seat, single-engine, lightweight, high-agility supersonic fighter aircraft has been undergoing flight trials in preparation for operational clearance, and by March 2012 had flown more than 1,816 test flights up to speeds of Mach 1.4. The Tejas light combat aircraft design and development programme is being led by the Aeronautical Development Agency (ADA) of the Indian Department of Defence, with Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL) as the prime industrial contractor.

The first LCA Demonstrator I aircraft made a maiden flight in January 2001. The LCA Demonstrator II first flew in June 2002. The second prototype vehicle (PV-II) made a maiden flight in December 2005 and the third in December 2006. The Indian Government approved limited series production of 20 Tejas for the air force in April 2006.

First flight of the production aircraft was in April 2007. The Tejas trainer variation took off on its first flight in November 2009. The fourth limited series production aircraft (LSP-4) took its first flight in June 2010. The LSP-5 platform undertook its maiden flight in November 2010. The initial operational clearance (IOC) testing was completed in December 2010 and certification was approved in January 2011. The LSP-7 completed its maiden flight in March 2012.

The aircraft is expected to enter service by the end of 2012. The first squadron will be set up in 2013. Final operational clearance (FOC) is planned for 2014.

Conceptual design study by the ADA and test flight trials by the IAF

"The IAF ordered 40 Tejas aircraft including 20 Tejas Mk1 and 20 Tejas Mk 2. The first 20 fighters will be built according to IOC standards."

Tejas, the smallest lightweight, multirole, single-engined tactical fighter aircraft in the world, is being developed as a single seat fighter aircraft for the Indian Air Force and also as a two-seat training aircraft. In November 2008, the Indian Air Force confirmed a requirement for 140 Tejas aircraft to equip seven squadrons.

The design of a carrier-borne Tejas in single-seat and two-seat versions with a modified nose, strengthened landing gear and an arrestor hook was granted approval in 1999. The carrier variant has retractable canards and adjustable vortex control.

The development programme for the carrier-borne versions was agreed by the Indian Government in 2002 and the first flights of two prototype aircraft were completed in 2009. The carrier variant may replace the fleet of Sea Harriers.

The Indian Air Force (IAF) began the second phase of hot weather flight trials on the Tejas light combat aircraft in June 2010. The digital flight control computer, avionics systems, multimode radar, RWR and the electrical and environmental control systems were examined by using two Tejas aircraft for trial sorties. The test was carried out at temperatures up to 45°C.

The Indian Aeronautical Development Agency (ADA) is carrying out a conceptual design study of the ADA medium combat aircraft, which will be an advanced, stealthy version of the Tejas, to replace the Indian Air Force Jaguar and Mirage 2000 fleet. The medium combat aircraft has two engines with fully vectoring nozzles and no vertical or horizontal tail.

India has carried out initial flight tests on the fourth production version of the Tejas light combat aircraft. The first, second and third Tejas production versions were flight tested in 2007, 2008 and 2010.

Orders and deliveries of Tejas and delta platform design

The IAF ordered 40 Tejas aircraft including 20 Tejas Mk1 and 20 Tejas Mk 2. The first 20 fighters will be built according to IOC standards and the remaining will be built adhering to FOC standards.

The maiden flight of Tejas Mk2 is scheduled for 2014.

The aircraft is of delta platform design with shoulder-mounted delta wings. The aircraft has a fin but no horizontal tail. Lightweight materials including aluminium and lithium alloys, titanium alloys and carbon composites have been used in the construction. The wing structure includes composite spares and ribs with a carbon fibre-reinforced plastic skin.

The National Aerospace Laboratories (NAL), based in Bangalore, has designed and is responsible for the manufacture of the fin and the rudder and the construction of the aircraft fuselage.

Cockpit of the Indian supersonic fighter aircraft

The aircraft is fitted with a night vision compatible glass cockpit with Martin Baker (UK) zero-zero ejection seats.

The cockpit has two 76mm×76mm colour liquid crystal multifunction displays developed by Bharat Electronics, a head up display developed by the government-owned Central Scientific Instruments Organisation (CSIO) in Chandigarh, a liquid crystal return-to-home-base panel and keyboard. The pilot also has a helmet-mounted display and sight (HMDS). The hands on throttle and stick control system minimises pilot workload and maximises situational awareness.

The aircraft has a quadruplex fly-by-wire digital automatic flight control. The navigation suite includes Sagem SIGMA 95N ring laser gyroscope inertial navigation system with an integrated global positioning system.

The communications suite includes VHF to UHF radio communications with built-in counter-countermeasures, air-to-air and air-to-ground data links and a HAL information friend-or-foe interrogator. The cockpit is fitted with an environmental control system developed by Spectrum Infotech of Bangalore. The avionics suite has an integrated utility health-monitoring system, ground proximity warning system, terrain referenced navigation system, instrument landing system, global positioning system, stores management system and three 1553B 32-bit mission computers.

Tejas light combat aircraft is equipped with advanced cockpit to enhance the comfort level of test pilots.

Weapons and countermeasures of the Tejas single-engine high-agility aircraft

The aircraft has eight external hardpoints to carry stores, with three under each wing, one on the centre fuselage and one installed under the air intake on the port side. A 23mm twin barrelled GSh-23 gun with a burst firing rate of 50 rounds a second and muzzle velocity of 715m a second is installed in a blister fairing under the starboard air intake.

The aircraft can be armed with air-to-air, air-to-ground and anti-ship missiles, precision-guided munitions, rockets and bombs. Electronic warfare, targeting, surveillance, reconnaissance or training pods can be carried on the hardpoints. Drop tanks can also be carried.

In October 2007, the Tejas successfully test-fired the R-73 air-to-air missile. The Vympel R-73 (Nato codename AA-11 Archer) missile is an all-aspect short-range missile with cooled infra-red homing. The missile can intercept targets at altitudes between 0.02km and 20km, g-load to 12g and with target speeds of up to 2,500km/h.

The Indian Government will procure Derby beyond-visual-range air-to-air missiles (BVR-AAM) from Rafael Advanced Defence Systems to incorporate on 200 Tejas.

The Derby missiles are expected to be delivered by the end of 2012. They will supersede Astra BVR-AAM and accelerate the development process. The weapon tests on Tejas were carried out at the Pokhran range in September 2011.

The aircraft's electronic warfare suite, developed by the Advanced Systems Integration and Evaluation Organisation (ASIEO) of Bangalore, includes a radar warning receiver and jammer, laser warner, missile approach warner and chaff and flare dispenser.

Sensors and radar developed by Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL)

The Electronics Research and Development Establishment and HAL have jointly developed the aircraft's multimode radar. The radar has multiple target search and track-while-scan and ground-mapping modes of operation. The radar incorporates pulse Doppler radar with Doppler beam shaping, moving target indication and look-up / look-down capability. The radar is mounted in a Kevlar radome.

Turbofan engines and performance of the IAF's Tejas light combat aircraft

The prototype development aircraft are fitted with General Electric F404-GE-F2J3 turbofan engines with afterburn. Production aircraft will be fitted with one General Electric 85kN F404-GE-IN20 turbofan engine with full authority digital engine control. HAL placed an order for 24 F404-GE-IN20 engines in February 2007.

"Tejas, the smallest lightweight, multirole, single-engined tactical fighter aircraft in the world, is being developed as a single seat fighter aircraft for the Indian Air Force."

LSP-2 (limited series production 2) is the first aircraft to be fitted with the engine. Flight trials with the production engine began in June 2008.

It was planned that a new turbofan engine, the GTX-35VS Kaveri, under development by Gas Turbine Research Establishment (GTRE), would be fitted to the production aircraft, but delays in development led to the purchase of the General Electric engines.

Snecma-Larzac has been chosen as the industrial partner in the engine development.

The Kaveri engine develops 52kN dry power and 80.5kN with afterburn. The aircraft will use multi-axis thrust vectoring nozzles. The engine has Y-duct air intakes.

The aircraft has wing and fuselage tanks and an in-flight refuelling probe on the front starboard side. Drop tanks with a capacity up to 4,000l, can be carried on the inner and mid-board wing and fuselage centreline hardpoints. The aircraft is fitted with a HAL gas turbine starter unit model GTSU-110.

The aircraft can fly at a maximum speed of 2,205km/h and at maximum altitude of 15,200m. The range of the aircraft is 3,000km. Its service ceiling is 16,500m. The aircraft weighs around 5,450kg and its maximum take-off weight is 13,500kg.

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The Tejas LCA, single-seat, single-engine, lightweight, high-agility supersonic fighter.
The Tejas LCA development programme is led by the Aeronautical Development Agency.
The design of the tailless compound delta planform helps keep the LCA small and light.
The aircraft has eight external hardpoints to carry stores, with three under each wing.
Production aircraft will be powered by the GE F404-GE-IN20 turbofan engine, rated at 85kN.
Designed to be aerodynamically unstable, Tejas has manoeuvrability limits of +9g to -3.5g.
Cockpit of Tejas - the avionics suite includes quadruplex digital automatic flight control.