A bird in the hand: induct Tejas Mark I into the IAF in larger numbers - Broadsword by Ajai Shukla - Strategy. Economics. Defence.

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Monday 22 July 2013

A bird in the hand: induct Tejas Mark I into the IAF in larger numbers

by Ajai Shukla
Business Standard, 23rd July 13

After two decades of development and the expenditure of some 8,000 crore, the Tejas Light Combat Aircraft (LCA) is nearing operational service in the Indian Air Force (IAF). With Final Operational Clearance (FOC) targeted for end-2014, an Indian light fighter would be flying combat missions in any conflict from 2015 onwards,. Given that this is India’s first modern combat fighter, the Aeronautical Development Agency (ADA) --- the Defence R&D Organisation (DRDO) body that oversees the Tejas project --- has developed its debut fighter quickly and cheaply.

It is time to induct the Tejas into the IAF in large numbers, not just to phase out the MiG-21, but also to let line pilots develop confidence in the fighter and allow their feedback to inform further development. But the Ministry of Defence (MoD) has unwisely decided to build just two squadrons of the already developed aircraft --- called Tejas Mark I --- and to start developing an even more capable Tejas Mark II. This is an enormous blunder for at least three reasons.

Firstly, as testified by the IAF test pilots who have flown the Tejas through more than a thousand hours of flight-testing, the current version of the fighter, i.e. the Tejas Mark I, is already a world-class fighter that has achieved most performance landmarks that the IAF had demanded. It flies at Mach 1.6 (about 2,000 kmph), a speed that the IAF is satisfied with. Its state-of-the-art quadruplex digital flight control system makes it a maneuverable and easy-to-fly fighter, unlike the unforgiving MiG-21 that it is slated to replace. The Tejas has not had a single accident so far, testifying to the stability of its design.

Another key measure of a fighter’s capability is the Angle of Attack (AoA) it can achieve. The higher the AoA, the more lift that is generated, allowing a fighter to get airborne at slower speeds from short airstrips, e.g. aircraft carriers. The IAF had demanded an AoA of 26 degrees for the Tejas. The Tejas has already been tested to 24 degrees, and is on course to achieve that target.

Says Air Commodore (Retd) Parvez Khokhar, who was for years the chief test pilot of the Tejas programme: “The Tejas Mark I is far superior to the MiG-21 fleet that the IAF would have to operate to the end of this decade. In key respects, it is a better fighter than even the Mirage 2000. The Tejas Mark I should enter the IAF’s combat fleet in larger numbers and the Tejas Mark II scaled down. This would allow the air force to retire the MiG-21 fleet sooner.”

For this, the MoD must review its current plan to build just forty Tejas Mark I fighters, and embark upon another risky adventure to develop a more powerful, capable fighter. Since this would take at least four years of development work, the IAF would not start receiving the Tejas Mark II until 2018.

Furthermore, developing an ambitiously-framed Tejas Mark II would be dogged by uncertainty. To give the Mark II additional power, ADA plans to replace the Mark I’s General Electric F-404 engine, which develops barely 80 KiloNewtons of thrust, with a more recent General Electric F-414 engine that will provide 90-96 KiloNewtons. But an internal ADA study has found that there may eventually be no benefit from this upgrade, since the Tejas’ fuselage would have to be significantly redesigned to accommodate the bulkier, heavier F-414. All this added weight, the study concludes, would neutralize the new engine’s added power. Furthermore, there is a longstanding design flaw in the Tejas air intake, which allows barely enough air to be sucked in for the current F-404 engine. Fitting the more powerful F-414 would require the air intakes to be enlarged as well. And the rearrangement of so many major aerostructures would shift the Mark II’s centre of gravity, necessitating the shifting around of other components to get the balance right.

Instead of this major redesign, loaded with the likelihood of further delays, it would be far more prudent to order more Tejas Mark I, while restricting the scope of the Mark II upgrade. This is where the third major benefit would come in --- through the early activation of a mass production line on which Hindustan Aeronautics Ltd (HAL) could build fighters quickly. Currently, the tiny volume of orders (20 Mark I ordered, 20 more in the pipeline) prevents HAL from ramping up its supply chains and investing in an assembly line that can churn out at least ten fighters a year. So slow is the current process that HAL will deliver the first Tejas Mark I in mid-2014; the second in late-2014; and just three Tejas in 2015.

Given the need to replace the MiG-21 quickly, as also the need to indigenize our arsenal, this is appallingly slow. Defence Minister AK Antony, at the annual Tejas Review Meeting on Jun 24, promised HAL Rs 1,500 crore for setting up the Tejas assembly line. But that is missing the wood for the trees; what use is an assembly line in the absence of orders?

What is needed then is an immediate IAF order for at least three squadrons of Tejas Mark I, which would galvanize HAL and the supply chains into activity. While releasing Rs 1,500 crore to HAL, instructions must be issued that the production line must deliver six Tejas Mark I fighters in 2014, and hit its production target of ten fighters per year in 2015. Meanwhile the Tejas Mark II must be fully developed by 2016. This would require it to be less ambitious, restricting itself to modernizing avionics; fitting an Active Electronically Scanned Array (AESA) radar; mounting more advanced air-to-air missiles; developing an onboard oxygen-generating system; and equipping the fighter with a mid-air refuelling system to increase its range.


  1. Could not agree more with your last para. MoD & IAF should start recognizing that Tejas MK I is our first modern fighter aircraft. Even getting to AESA and mid-air refueling by 2016 will tremendously enhance the scope of ops that any ex-MiG-21 squadron can achieve.

  2. I feel the mirage upgrade is very expensive and Tejas MK 2 would perform way better than upgraded mirage which would cost way less in life cycle costs.Nobody has seen the performance of the MICA missile as it is at technology stage and compare the life cycle cost of mirage and mig 29 and paying more than 41 million for upgrade is a rip off. Rafael was selected for MMRCA project for a deal of 10.6 billion $ but now the project cost is increased to 22 plus billion $ . Unfortunately F 35 costs less than the Rafael deal for 22 billion. Every fighter needs avionics upgrade 7-8 years and considering the cost of mirage upgrade Rafael upgrade would cost 100 million a piece. Calculate the life cycle cost of mirage which with upgrade would have old body which lost half of its life and an obsolete questionable engine. I feel in the same money quickly build 500 plus tejas mark 2 and mark 3 and dig out hangers in the hills and concede them and attach a small airstrip and china would not dare to attack us as with GE 414 IN5 S6 engine which is at least two generations ahead of Seneca engine. Tejas can take off at short runway and land at short runway with levicon and mark 2 with tic control and dual engine mark 3 with front like mark 2 and back like F 23 with heat absorbing tiles around the exhausts with a central box with internal weapons bay and stealth in both versions

    Timbal too

  3. Lets study your statements

    1)"Furthermore, developing an ambitiously-framed Tejas Mark II would be dogged by uncertainty. To give the Mark II additional power, ADA plans to replace the Mark I’s General Electric F-404 engine"

    So here you are confirming the inability and suspicion of producing a better plane , Mark 2 by HAL due to its track record.

    Then you go on and state
    "the Mark I’s General Electric F-404 engine, which develops barely 80 KiloNewtons of thrust"
    So the engine as stated a decade ago does not give optimum power and this will reduce further with carrying armaments.
    Then you state
    ) "Furthermore, there is a longstanding design flaw in the Tejas air intake, which allows barely enough air to be sucked in for the current F-404 engine."

    So your article on one shows the incapacity of HAL to produce the Mark 2, thus asking the IAF to induct Mark 1

    But then the Mark 1 itself is with flaws....so since HAL/DRDO failed India and cheated India by covering up its failures and denying the airfare a plane....you are stating that let the IAF induct and unworthy Mark 1thrusting pilots to battle against the best that even countries like pakistan has.,, yet then give talks of countering china...!!!!

    When did you go for a DRDO/HAL brainwashing session

    P.S do a survey of the 21. 29s and others failing due to HAL produced parts!!!!

  4. @Ajai sir

    with all due respect i dont see the need for inducting Tejas Mk1 in large numbers for fighter formation makes no sense, instead using for training is a better option. why lets take a look at a scenario:

    once all the Migs retire by 2018 and the Jaguars & Mirages retire by 2030 we will have these many fighters eventually.

    Sukhoi30 - 314
    Rafale - 250 (126+63+60 eventually)
    PAKFA/FGFA - 250 (eventually)
    AMCA -200 (if developed eventually)
    LCA Tejas Mk2-150 (eventually).

    I say this because with so many powerful jets in inventory there is no point in fielding a underpowered jet in large numbers.

    the more powerful LCA Tejas Mk2 with all the improvements as suggested by you in last para alongside re-designed air intake & OBOGS will compliment the IAF that will fly Rafale/AMCA/FGFA in a better way and it may eventually lead to the development of Tejas Mk3 supposedly a stealth version.

    If that happens IAF will be 1st AF in world to have stealth jets in 3 categories.
    1. 30 ton plus - PAKFA/FGFA
    2. 20 ton plus - AMCA
    3. 10 ton plus - Tejas mk3

    so where does it leave the Tejas Mk1, i say use it for training in large numbers.

    why, we need to keep in mind that IAF will eventually fly close to 50 squadrons as such training aircrafts in large numbers is also the need of the hour.

    1. For stage 1 training DRDO made HTT35/HTT40 both were discarded and IAF went for PC-7 Mk2, this is ok situation with upto 150 expected to be inducted.

    2. For stage 2 training DRDO made IJT 36 is nowhere in sight, hence a more powerful version of PC-7 Mk2 can be used to impart part 1 of stage 2 training while the part 2 of stage 2 training can be done on AJT Hawk.

    3. For stage 3 training the part 1 of stage 3 training can be done on AJT Hawk while the part 2 of stage 3 training can be done on the underpowered double seat LCA Tejas Mk1 as a LIFT (lead in fighter trainer).

    most importantly its important to trifurcate HAL into fighter maker, helo maker, and transport plane maker. also bring in TQP principals in sourcing of parts & delivery of final product.

    if things mentioned in above para happen then only we can expect to have standard quality product in large numbers & less number of crashes. if that does not happen even if HAL starts making FGFA there are bound to be crashes.


    Joydeep Ghosh

  5. You are right sir, after getting FOC we should replace MIG 21 with LCA Tejas Mark I. It is enough for making daily low level services, we cannot use SU30MKI or Rafale for that role, too expensive. We need a Light aircraft and Tejas perfectly fits that role. Exactly what is our obsession with foreign toys?

  6. All the correct recommendations Mr.Shukla. However India hasn't seen a capable leader since the days of Netaji Bose. Great leaders are produced in war-time, not in peace-time. Also what can we expect from career politicians such as Mr.Anthony! In the meantime, what you are doing through your blog is commendable. Keep it up. India's bane is its political class.

  7. Agree with the basic theme - that we need to develop confidence in our own equipment and develop our indigenous defence production capability. For the latter to happen our armed forces must support our fledgeling defence oriented industries and that can only happen when they place orders for the 'Mark I' variety instead of just running for the latest and best imported equipment. Examples in this respect would be Isreal's Merkava tanks or the chinese weapons. Both these countries accepted what their own industries could give them and after some time i.e. at present both these countries are producing some of the best items for warfighting.

    Hoever your comment that 'the Aeronautical Development Agency (ADA) --- the Defence R&D Organisation (DRDO) body that oversees the Tejas project --- has developed its debut fighter quickly and cheaply.' is way off reality, especially the last phrase - quickly and cheaply. It has to be recognised that the DRDO has failed the armed forces repeatedly in the past and therefore its but natural for the armed forces to look for other more reliable suppliers.

  8. After years of media running the Tejas project down finally a knowledgeable defence analyst gives some good news about Tejas....
    As far as my limited knowledge goes, despite the failure of Kaveri engine development, the design and implementation of new generation control surface and the development of Carbon fibre composite wings etc are note worthy achievements in Tejas....

  9. Everything said and done, we should also aim towards getting higher and higher indigenous content in successive versions of a large complex system such as Tejas. ADA has already initiated the process of seeking home made components/LRUs for Mark II and I think success of achieving the same will not be a small feet. Also it may be a worthwhile exercise to compare the continued operation of Mig-21(including cost of lives), cost of upgrades etc versus the operation involving the Mark-I over the presently intended lifetime of Mig-21 to justify the increased production of Mark-I itself. There may be some loss of money already spent on upgrades of Mig-21 but then the larger impact of producing more Mark-I may outweigh the loss....

  10. Its... not MOD... IAF which wants... situation to... deteriorate... like vvip copter case... and order... more... MMRCAs... PAKFAs... Gripen NGs...

  11. Parvez Khokhar23 July 2013 at 02:31

    Would the Mr Anonymous please state his name, stand up and be recognised for an awesome analysis and performance data of an aircraft that exists only in his imagination!
    Lets take Ajai's proposal seriously and debate /suggest how swiftly HAL can provide the Tejas to the IAF. At the present rate it may be able to provide twenty aircraft in 6-7 years...is that acceptable?


  12. I think a person from HAL has written this article

    "But the ministry of defence (MoD) has unwisely decided to build just two
    squadrons of the already developed aircraft – called Tejas Mark I"

    " unlike the unforgiving MiG-21 that it is slated to replace"
    its is not MiG-21 to be unforgiving...it the people who selected the cheep spare parts from Europe
    The people who never pointed to their colleagues who serviced the plane
    It's the people who never tested itz quality
    Mig-21 still works fine in Syria...reason that is made in Russia and not in India

    For this garbage 2 is more...this is what i feel. reason
    2011 it got IOC-1...after 2 yrs we read some article that IOC-1 was given with more than 100 critical parameters not satisfied...that is the reason IOC-2 is been created otherwise direct FOC.
    still i can't trust that after FOC given say by 2014...might be after 2 or 3 yrs it might pop-up in news channels

    Reg AoA:
    "The angle of attack indexeris used during final approach to landing. In order to land the aircraft correctly, your angle of attack should be between 11 and 15 degrees. At
    these AOAs, the green circle on the indexer will be lit up. If your AOA is below 11 degrees, the amber symbol will be lit up, and if it is above 15 degrees, the red symbol will be lit up (and you are getting close to stalling - see below). The indexer can also be used as a "rough" reference for maintaining optimal turn speeds."
    Ref: http://falcon4.wikidot.com/con...
    So think yourself how much we need to tune

    "But that is missing the wood for the trees; what use is an assembly line in the absence of orders?"
    Now the drama of HAL is been know to the world[media] and the world help to bring back the ministry to sense...otherwise what ever HAL asked the ministry would have signed.

    The last paragraph clearly mentions Ministry has placed a tight hook on the neck of HAL...perform or perish
    It started to beg for money.

  13. A brilliant article, Col. Shukla.

    Its high time the IAF realized how stupid was the comment of its former Air Chief, Naik, about Tejas being a mere "MiG-21++".

    I fully agree that the IAF must induct upto 3 squadrons of Tejas Mk-Is very soon, instead of just 40 units of Tejas Mk-Is. Even in the Mk-1 configuration, its far superior to anything the IAF currently flies, barring the Su-30.

    That's why the IAF must not simply treat it as a MiG-21 replacement. The Tejas can also replace the MiG-27 bombers and MiG-29s also. Its payload capacity and multi-role feature ensure this.

    One more suggestion: Why only burden HAL with the production of Tejas ? In order to ramp up production of Tejas, give a parcel of the order to private companies too.

    With AK Antony's thrust on privatization of defence production, this could well be a good start.

  14. Even the euro fighter Typhoon was built in trenches with increasing/additional capabilities. They have close to 100 years experience in aircraft design and still could not come up with all capability fighter. India on the other hand does not have a history in fighter development. We should also follow the same design principle and not look to alter the current design so much that it would take another decade to come up with Mark 2. We should increase the capabilities of the current design and induct it in large numbers. Our defense forces do not induct home grown equipment in substantial number to achieve cost advantage. The navy which is way ahead of any services in indiginization also does not induct a particular design in large quantity. I think this should change, we might not be making equipment which is world class at this moment, but they are certainly very good for the geographic region we operate in. The defense industry will develop when we show confidence in home grown technology.

  15. No question this is now a common man's dream in a way, :) , well acknowledged and neatly put across by a good writer and reporter.

    Couldn't agree more Col. Sahib.

  16. I think we are trapped in a fallacious thought that we will induct the fighter once it is perfect. How can we define what is perfect in arms race? No tech company waits to release a new product despite knowing that it is evolving in its R&D labs. Thats why we have generations of mobiles or laptops tablets. Hell even evolution of life proceeds without predictions by responding to present. I dont want to sound wiser than the staff of defence ministry or brothers and sisters in armed forces, but I disagree with them. Numerous examples around us disagrees with them. Nearly every single invention and its subsequent evolution is proof of this.
    Please do remember that you dont protect suited up upper class or khadi clad politicians. Our armed forces defend a nation whose farmers commit suicide driven by debts and children die of malnutrition. Richer nations have raptors to project their power, but we will have to make do with what our scientists have managed to deliver. It maybe not be comparable to raptors but it is something to go with. Support its development. Let it evolve.

    The opinion of test pilots, if unbiased, is itself a testimony to the ability of the Tejas Mk-I.
    Its not about perfections. Its about practicality and having equipments at disposal in the present.

  17. @ Rustom

    You think you've got a great argument, but all you're demonstrating is that you don't even know who is developing the Tejas and who is manufacturing it.

    Perhaps you're not even aware of the difference between developing an aircraft and building the developed product.

    For your information, just so that you don't continue making an ass of yourself, HAL has not developed the Tejas Mark I and will not develop the Tejas Mark II either.

    ADA (a DRDO agency) has overseen the development of the Tejas. HAL will merely manufacture the developed aircraft, besides having played a role in developing certain parts. That is why it is so disinterested in the Tejas.

    As for your little barb about a "DRDO/HAL brainwashing session"... anybody but a nitwit would see that both DRDO and HAL will be most displeased with this article.

    I know all of this is too convoluted for you to comprehend. So go and take up piano tuning or something, and don't waste everybody's time.

  18. @ Anonymous 11:57

    You don't think the Tejas has been developed cheaply? Can you cite me ONE debut fighter... okay even a non-debut fighter... that has been built for less than 8,000 crore or its dollar equivalent?

    Talk figures, my friend, not bombast and propaganda.

  19. The Politicians make their money from the foreign vendors and as such, they are not interested in developing the Tejas, they would rather have the pilots fly the Flying coffins, called the Mig-21's. India is doomed, it seems forever, with medicore Politicians, who dont seem to understand that all their power and money means nothing without the country, in foreign lands they will be prisoners in Golden chains, here they are the all mighty Chaudhary's of the country.

  20. India must provide more stress on increasing the existing manufacturing capacity of aircrafts. Commercial success of each indigenous product is very important. HAL must immediately start manufacturing the trainer version of the aircraft.
    While expediting the development of LCA Mark-2 is very important, India must also try more variants of LCA-1. One such variant is a twin engine LCA with Kaveri engine. India dreams to watch LCA flying with Kaveri engine.

  21. @Joydeep Ghosh

    The numbers you have quoted are wishful thinking. Wake up buddy!

    Su30MKI we have 270 on order. Not 350

    Rafael - 126, negotiations are on. Its gona costs the nation 12 billion USD. Another 126 aircraft the cost would be nothing less than additional 16-17 billion USD. Where is this 30 billion USD going to come from?

    PakFA - India has already downsized the numbers to 144. The entire program cost would be around 35 billion for India over the years. Your number of 250 would not see the light of the day. Heck for that matter India has delayed the contract signing to next financial year.

    AMCA is not off the design board, and you are talking about 200 numbers. Even optimistic timelines suggest, the fighter would be inducted only around 2035. And to reach the strength of 200 numbers will take another 10 years. That's 2045.

    LCA is the only viable fighter we have that can be produced in large numbers.

    Su30MKI, Rafael and PakFA are all heavy class fighters. Which costs tremendous amount of money to procure and maintain. Which a nation like our just can't afford. What we need is a front line lighter fighter that can be mass produced and at a fraction of the cost. This can become the back bone of the air force. You see a sword can't do a needles job and vise verse. We need to adapt spiral development to keep the cost down and improve on capabilities of the fighter that's flying.

    Now do you see where we are standing in our fighter capabilities.

  22. Anonymous 00:54

    sorry but looks like you didnt read my comments carefully

    Su30 count is 270+4(replacement for crashed)+ 40 SuperSu30(Brahmos capable)

    Rafale is 126 for now but once the production starts option for 63 will be used also there are talks for getting 60 more of these off shelf if FGFA dont come in large numbers by 2025

    AMCA is on design board and may remain there but if its developed 200 is the expected figure

    all these are eventual figure post the Mig era that will end by 2020 and Jagaur/Mirage era that will end by 2030. as such the figure i wrote will be eventually from 2030 onwards only.

    as for the cost do remember that over a billion has been pumped into LCA till date & to build LCA in large numbers they will have to setup new production line or enlarge a existing one.

    after setting up a production line for LCA Mk1 then again revamping it for LCA Mk2 will be utterly cost prohibitive.

    By the way dont worry LCA Mk2 will still be light fighter when compared to FGFA/Rafale. please read my previous comment carefully


    Joydeep Ghosh

  23. Hello Colonel,

    But you have been advocating that F-35 in your bird in hand...

    Why this turn around...

  24. Because, my anonymous friend, even with 10-15 squadrons of Tejas Mark I and Mark II, the IAF would still need to import medium and heavy fighters.

    My vote for the F-35 still stands. I prefer it any day to the Dassault Rafale that the IAF is foolishly trying to buy.

    But that debate is in the medium fighter category. We still need lots and lots of Tejas LCAs. And eventually, we need to induct the AMCA, when that is built.

  25. This Rustom guy has been posting the same nonsense everywhere, that HAL and DRDO are sister entities. He even makes it a point to write HAL / DRDO, as though the two are interchangeable.

    For the last time Mr. Rustom: DRDO is the research agency. HAL is the mass-manufacturer.

    Besides, DRDO has been begging the government to allow the private sector into manufacturing, in order to free itself from HAL's shackles.


  26. @ Boradsword..
    i wish you could have justified your excuse with some other than what you have written..cause..i quoted from your writing and the questions still remain same..maybe you suffer from selective amnesia and thus am forced to quote from your article once again..

    'So slow is the current process that HAL will deliver the first Tejas Mark I in mid-2014; the second in late-2014; and just three Tejas in 2015."

    Do read the first line over and over and the 8th word in it....and i guess you either could cover up once again by being arrogant or try another method...

    In any case just for the debate...culd you still answer the questions posed...and if tickles your humour...replace HAL by any other.....the crux of the matter still is you are askign the IAF to induct a Mark 1 with a design flaw( your words) because of the inability of (( whoever)---to suit your palate, )to produce a Mark 2!!!!

    if not try another diversion

  27. Col. Shukla,

    Even if LCA Mk2 arrives, IAF has only committed to order about 83 aircrafts. Isn't this an extremely low numbers? We will have in all about 120 LCA Mk.1 and Mk.2.

    Why is the IAF not placing order for larger numbers to make this variant backbone of the Indian air-force. Or is it that they are not very confident of its capabilities and hence just buying a few due to pressure from GOI? I thought we would atleast need 300 of these to replace the Mig 21's. Our present fighter acquisition and future development are all in the heavy and medium class. Don't you think we should just have light and heavy class, rather than light, medium, Heavy.

    The development of twin engine AMCA pointless. When we have Su30MKI, PakFa and Rafael, all heavy class. I think we should have concentrated on developing a stealthy and maneuverable single engine fighter that would be cheap to produce in large numbers and compliment the heavy fighters.

  28. We do not know whom to believe.

  29. Sir, Part 1 of my comment, viz,

    From the day I saw the Tejas, it struck me as if the designer was confused about its intended role. Let's take some roles for combat aircraft today and see where the Tejas fits in (NOTE - only Indian inventory types being pitched against):

    (a) Interceptor a la MiG-23? With a delta wing (straight line high speed at the expense of turning ability) - yes. With a max speed at altitude of only M1.6? No way. Two of those puny F404's (and the thrust of 78 or 85 kN is at full afterburner) are required by the F-18 to even attempt the role of the F-14 and the F-18 is no interceptor, just a limited range fleet defence aircraft.

    (b) Interdictor a la MiG-27? Again, several limitations like a small engine, payload restrictions, and the unforgiving G loads imposed on the airframe and the pilot by the delta at low altitudes, among others negate that role. The Tejas is no bomb truck.

    (c) Classical Dogfighter a la the Ajeet (Gnat)? Even with that cranked delta (viz F-16XL), no matter what gizmo-gadgetry is working (Relaxed Static Stability, advanced aerodynamic surfaces et al ), an opponent will overshoot as the Tejas loses speed at the worst possible time when its Energy Quotient needs to be the highest. And the engine is just too weak give instant thrust. The Viggen, Gripen, Typhoon and Rafale are all deltas or delta-types but with a big difference - those canard fore planes to scrub the wing's upper surface thru vortices plus give lift, none of which the Tejas has. A canard version was tested but not implemented, go d alone knows why.

    Design? The intakes most closely resemble those of the F-111 and I suspect, have similar problems of airflow at high AoA and unusual attitudes, foreign object ingestion on the ground etc. No fore or aft planes to aid in maneuverability, not even rudimentary canards like the Mirage 2000. A weak engine that cannot get the pilot out of a jam plus dependence on them Yankees - no engine= no Tejas (the Viggen's sale was vetoed by selfsame Yankees in the late 70's due to the RM8/JT8 engine). Hardly any space for a second cockpit, if at all a dedicated trainer is envisaged.

    Yet, the Tejas is a true jack of all trades and part master of all, a correct light weight combat aircraft for developing nations. It flies well, is modern and looks reasonably good. Quite fitting in today's times of over-the-top prices per weight of combat aircraft. Except that the developing nation that has developed it has in turn, afforded itself a luxury that even Uncle Sam cannot give to HIS forces - a light weight, middleweight and heavyweight fighter aka Tejas, Rafale and Su-30!!!

  30. Part II of my comment, viz,

    Now to your post which is such a smorgasbord of inputs that one finds it difficult to comment without digressing as much as the post itself has(aerodynamics, operations, cost benefits etc) . I shall try, anyway.

    1. Quick and cheap development. I agree. One hundred percent RPM with afterburner here. Given the next-to-zero R & D in Indian aviation( esp combat and combat support aviation), the snail's pace of turning whatever is developed into a viable production-worthy unit, the hostile international environment, lack of hitech military infra topped off by the somnolent polity, glassy bureaucracy and supine user, the Tejas is truly a wonder. Full marks to whosoever deserves them and added grace marks for getting it to actually fly.

    2. Induct the Mk 1s in strength. That is if one considers the Mk 1 as a viable squadron service type rather than a tech demonstrator-at-large. We must not forget the lesson of the F-16A. Designed as a day superiority, light weight fighter (LWF) with a rotary cannon, two small air to air missiles, no ground role, no advanced avionics, the changing facets of air combat forced the USAF to have ever increasing advancements incorporated to make it a truly multi-role aircraft in the C and D plus Block 50+ models. Even then, some squadrons were equipped with the A model. A similar exercise, if carried out with the Tejas (two sqns) will yield invaluable data in actual sqn service conditions (as opposed to the "1000h+ test flying" type of operations) on which to carry out future upgrades in the Mk II. In fact, designing the Mk II is a tacit admission by the ADA that the Tejas may already be ineffective in the intended role/obsolete in relevance as also a recognition that it needs to be bettered to face the next 30 odd years of service.

    In such issues, it is better to wait for 4 years to get a definitive iteration of the type than introduce a machine that is barely, in real world terms, out of prototype stage.

    3. I have got so sick of refuting the "unforgiving/widow maker/killer/Jack the Ripper" adjectives for the MiG-21 that I shall comment on this only if you write a full-blown post on it.

    4. We must wait for the type to be flown by line sqn pilots before commenting on stability, serviceability, maintainibility, repairibility etc (my EME friends, hark!). In the hands of a test pilot, the aircraft is flown by the best of the best while in sqns, even the worst of the worst (no offence to the pilots, just an antonym for the former, guys, peace) will be hammering it on the tarmac, pulling G wantonly, rapid throttle excursions etc. Then we will see how many pilots survive.

  31. Part III of my comment, viz,

    5. I agree that replacing the MiG-21s and 27s must be the Priority Number 1 and 2 respectively and in that context, the go-slow on the Mk 1 is truly atrocious thinking. If only for this reason, I support your stance most wholeheartedly. Advanced super computing be damned, lets get the typewriter ribbon replaced. How many topiwallas have lost their sons to MiG-21/23/27 accidents is unknown...

    6. Please quote tech aerodynamic terms in context. Higher AsoA do translate into higher lift but until a limit which is when the aerofoil stalls. AoA is related and relative to myriad factors - the NACA profile, aspect ratio, chord etc and is in itself a function of the speed of the airflow around the aerofoil. A higher, sustainable AoA, achieved at low speeds will make the aircraft less exacting near the stall regime. Good for carrier landings (in the Tejas, where is the robust landing gear for these brutal controlled crashes almost ) but superfluous for landbased runways. In fact, the need is for lift at lower angles of attack esp during landings to enable the pilot to see the runway till almost the flare. That is the benefit of variable geometry aka MiG-23/27, F-111, Tornado etc. Too heavy for a Tejas type LWF. So increase aspect ratio in a fixed wing to lower stall speed and reduce AoA which also reduces max speed and reduces performance and the vicious circle starts.

    6. The 24 degrees demoed by the Tejas is in test flying. No line pilot in his right mind, even with 3 stars on his lower right pocket, will go anywhere near that crazy angle esp at low air speeds and low level and power off so why the QR? A sustainable high AoA demonstrates high aero efficiency but is of little use in the real world unless the aircraft is designed to be flown by morons who approach high AoA and stall speeds without a care in the world. Our AF pilots are among the best and furthest from morons, I know. The aircraft's aerofoil design militates against high AoA profiles so why flog that attribute, if at all it is one.

    The Tejas has been trapped by its own designers. By itself, it may be an excellent aircraft. It would make a most superlative export item to be sold to US engine friendly countries (precious few of them left, yet...) if mass produced without too many of the bells and whistles. But in an Indian context, faced by a rapidly modernising Chinese AF, it just may be a case of "too little, too late" - the motto, perhaps, of all the defence PSUs and the successively myopic govts behind them.

    Perhaps, three fully inventoried sqns (16 singles, 2 trainers) with incremental upgrades from the 49th airframe would be more correct. Unless, of course, ADA knows something about the Tejas that none of us, even you, is privy to.

  32. I have to agree with Rustom's analytical dissection of Shuklaji blog post. It is a tad confusing argument in favor of inducting a "limited scope" Tejas-1.0 due to "anticipated" (as per HAL, ADA track-record) developmental delays in Tejas-2.0. And I believe, Rustom was only concerned with the quality of products the IAF receives, despite HAL's vehement denials of poor quality production practices. Having said this, it is understood that Shuklaji places great importance on prioritizing adoption of indigeneously developed products given their shortcomings. Since the process of refining is done in stages. As the Tejas-1.0 matures to Tejas-1.1, 1.2, 1.3 and so on, it will incorporate fixes for developmental flaws. Such fixes will dove-tail into lesson-learnt and expertise gained towards development of Tejas-2.0, AMCA and future Aircraft design process in India. Shuklaji, you need to be all ears to every view, and be able to stand criticism of your public domain blog posts. Shouting against critics is what HAL and other govt. orgs are accustomed too and this shows in their quality. I hope you don't want to add your name to that list.

  33. Respected Manish Joshi
    1. Fighter planes are not item number dancers that are assessed by merely seeing it is my humble my opinion. Tejas has a role and it’s ASR was given none other than IAF, Are you suggesting that they don’t know which role tejas will play ?

    2. All the fighter planes after Mirage -2000 barring the FA-18 hornet have some sort of delta configuration. So all of them are unfit for interceptor duties perhaps. Not a very intelligent analysis. The job done by the canard in euro canards and the crank in LCA are the same, i.e to create flow energizing vortices and make them cling on to upper surface of the wing.So all eurocanards are unfit for interception perhaps.

    Fighters are supposed to operate within their range, it doesnot matter which size of engine they have, and what amount of payload they carry. If people want more payload dispatch more fighters.The cost would be the same because the heavier fighters carrying twice the Tejas load cost twice the same.The combat theatre of tejas is Indo- Pak and Indo-China border . For that it has suitable engine and suitable payload and range.All unforgiving g loads imposed on tejas has been tested in ground rigs till 13 gs.

    The performance specs of fighters that are needed to be noted are RCS, STR, ITR.If LCA tejas satisfies IAF in these areas it is good to fly.Losing speed and overshooting and cartwheeling belong to the old days. Lca has the lowest wingloading among all fighters. Means it has a very good ITR for getting the first shot with high offboresight WVR misiles and with 120 km range tracking radar it can launch 120 km Astra mk-2 when the missile matures.You can go to Mirage -2000 vs f-16 sites to know that.Once again the crank in delta does the same job of canards.And bigger control surfaces of tejas take over the control role played by canards.canards are also drag inducing. And go google why grippen’s first prototype crashed

  34. According to papers published by ADA LCA can retain control even in high 30 deg AOA. But safe AOA limit is to be set at 24 deg and may be further expanded to 24 deg. This AOA will be used in combat wherever it may be, All right minded combat pilots know that the FCS of tejas will allow them o fly at this upper limit of 24 deg and 26 deg safely. They can override the FCS and fly at a much higher AOA if situation demands. The number one use of AOA is to have a higher Sustained turn rate in combat i.e STR.

    So no one trapped Tejas. It will fly free and do it’s bit. 24 degree is not demoed. This is not a ford eco sport presentation. Tejas LCA has validated it’s Sustained AOA at 24 deg is the proper word.And this AOA will be used in combat for a better STr and ITR .


  35. Respected Maneesh Josi.

    5. There is no way you can see the air intake and make a comment without knowing the fluid dynamic calculation behind the design. What is an unusual altitude? All fighter planes fly at their specified altitude ranges.Once again people design the control surface with the force needed to maneuver the plane. If some plane uses canards as control surface, just look at the area of the control surface behind the wing, They are small, Lca has bigger control surfaces attached to the back side of the wing and leading edge slats as well..What can be achieved by fore or aft planes can also achieved by bigger normal control surfaces.Once again the small mush like canrda of Mirage-2000 are not going to create a magic . Su-35 does not have canards but it still excssds the canarded SU-30 MK in agility. How? The Yankees then were not selling Apaches to India, And we are camp followers of USSR. Now Russia is selling Su-35 to china and US is allowing green pine radar sales to India. The thrust to weight ratio of LCA is higher than the Mirage, Simple thrust numbers are irrelevant to debate.

    All multi role fighters can be described as jack of all trades according to your comparison.Tejas has many qualities that make it score more than 80 percent of the fighters that are available with IAf today.It looks good , has the least clean config RCS, It has the lowest wingloading meaning higher Instantaneous turn rate i.e ITR. That is what counts in modern battle. Do you know the famed F-15 has an STR of just close to 21 deg in corner speeds. Even if you look at the vertical loop of LCA in the recent aeroindia 2013 it completed it within 20 seconds. Meaning anSTR of close 18 dg even with the FCS restriction of 22 deg AOA and 6G limits. It is slated to clear 24 deg AOA and 8gs in FOC. SO even in STR it will satisfy the IAF. So it won’ t lose speed and and overshoot. And a LEVCON is to be added to further improve this STR.

  36. tejas mk-1 alone will do much better than all the jags, Mig-21, 23 can do.

    It's top speed of mach 1.6 is good enough if you compare with the mach 1.8 top speed of rafale into which GOI is ready to sink in tens of billions of dollars.You may say that Mig-21 has much better top speed of MAch-2 . Does that mean RAFALE is inferior to MIG-21?

    A big No. What counts is the agility of the fighter in trans sonic speeds of close to mach 1. Only to exceed in this area where close combat will be fought , the designers chose the cranked delat wing form aka F-16 XL.

    LCA's radome dia is almost equal to that of RAFELE as well. And ADA cheif in his interview to the author of the blog has already said that Tejas mk-2 will have the interface to fire meteor.

    And MK-1 can fire Astra mk-2 in future which will have 100 plus KM range. And tejas radar can already track 120 km range targets.
    So in no way tejas is inferior to the fighters that presently populate the IAF fleet.

    It's higher numbers due to local production cost in ruppee alone is a big factor for the bang it gives for the buck.

  37. Dear Ajai,

    Do you think USA will allow us access to F-35 source codes, agree to ToT and domestic manufacturing of the bird by HAL?

    Also, what about kill switches, electronic bugs and the like? Are these genuine issues or hot air? Because a domestically produced TuAF F-16, made by TAI, that crashed once was found to have multiple undisclosed GPS trackers in many of the sealed components.

    And I think ordering F-35 will sound the death knell for the AMCA dream. If we really want the capability, let the Navy buy about 120-200 of the birds for our future carriers.

  38. Maneesh Joshi, please enlighten yourself on the following:

    1 ADA did conduct wind-tunnel studies on the Tejas by appending canards. Their studies did Not find any significant improvement in its performance. So, canards were dropped.

    2 Due to point 1, your arguments about Tejas not being manoeuverable enough vis-a-vis canards like Gripen or J-10 go out of the window. Its very manoueverable, and that's been testified to the media many times by the numerous test-pilots who have flown it from the IAF and IN's air wing (including Pervez Khokhar, who was quoted by Col. Shukla earlier).

    3 Its max-payload equals or exceeds that of MiG-27 and MiG-29. Its multi-role ability means it can be a bomber or a striker as the need arises. In fact, Tejas can replace the MiG-27, MiG-29s and Mirage-2000s also (yes, it can't deliver nukes, but that was never its intended role).

    4 On a modern fighter like Tejas, there's something called a flight-control computer. It doesn't allow a pilot to exceed certain flight limits no matter how much he yanks the joystick or the throttle. And after over 2,600 flight-tests widely reported in 13 years, Tejas is the MOST WIDELY TESTED AND SCRUTINIZED FIGHTER IN ASIA, AND PROBABLY IN THE HISTORY OF MILITARY AVIATION.

    So, rest assured its pretty safe for even the junior pilots in the IAF, unlike the coffin MiG-21s.

    5 ADA did not embark on the Mk.2 on its own. The IAF asked it to develop one (in a copy-cat requirement after seeing the far more enthusiastic Navy requesting the ADA to develop Tejas with a more powerful engine for carrier ops).

    6 In terms of avionics, weapons and abilities, Tejas compares very well with the Gripen C/D. So, its a case of a modern 4+ generatin jet, and not "too little too, late" as you put it so ignorantly.

  39. The Tejas Mark-1 has major unresolved issues which Ajai has not highlighted. If i can list out the issues
    - Angle of Attack tested only at 20 degree instead of ASQR of 24 deg. In IDP sentinel a retd IAF pilot says beyond 20 deg nobody is sure how the Tejas will behave

    - In the High altitud trials Tejas failed. ACM Browne remarked even Su-30 had problems which were later rectified

    - Tejas cannot taxi back after landing

    - Radar cover causing loss of signal

    Maybe IAF decided to go 40 Mk1 and ADA gets more time

  40. Thus from the comment by Abhiman and the author of the article..


    Once again copying from the article...
    "the Mark I’s General Electric F-404 engine, which develops barely 80 KiloNewtons of thrust"

    ""Furthermore, there is a longstanding design flaw in the Tejas air intake, which allows barely enough air to be sucked in for the current F-404 engine."

    So now one can safely concur that the "MOST WIDELY TESTED AND SCRUTINIZED FIGHTER IN ASIA, AND PROBABLY IN THE HISTORY OF MILITARY AVIATION." According to Abhiman Still continuous to have design flaws, not enough power and the manufacturing line is still faulty (once again quoting the author --""So slow is the current process that HAL will deliver the first Tejas Mark I in mid-2014; the second in late-2014; and just three Tejas in 2015.) and thus is being advised that due to the inability of the whoever to produce Mark 2 efficiently , the IAF should induct a plane with a faulty design( author's word), barely enough power( author's word)..

    How many of civilians and those in DRDO/HAL/ADA etc will fly or want to implement in Air India a commercial plane with flaws just because it is built in India and so tas to better the plane with a mark 2....i also wonder if they would blame all and sundry for not allowing such a plane to fly in their respective air space

    Each one of us take it arbitrary that the plane you catch to fly for a wedding or a tamasha is well built and has NO technological flaws....and that you as a passenger are not subject to test it..and be guinea pigs...
    Lets see how many bloggers will push for the SARAS to be inducted in Air India to fly Indians around for the benefit of indeginisation and to better the product..

  41. Rustom:

    1) The Gripen had crashed 2 times during its testing phase. Its critical flight-control software was flawed.

    Yet, the IAF had invited the Gripen for its MMRCA sweepstakes.

    What about Tejas ? Zero crashes in over 2,600 test-flights in 12 years. So, only a nitpicker will say that Tejas is a "flawed" design because its intakes supposedly suck in lesser air than possible.

    2) The intakes also have no bearing on the war-fighting abilities, as long as Tejas meets the ASRs (Air Staff Requirements) demanded by the IAF.

    What this means is, as long as the Tejas satisfies the IAF's demands on top speed, flying range, turning rate, weather handling, and other such parameters, there shouldn't be a problem, "flawed" intakes be damned.

    Dr. Avinash Chander is on track to deliver IoC-2 by Sept. this year.

    3) If the IAF can operate those old MiGs, that fly "Bhagwan bharose", do you think flying Tejas should be a problem ? Or any problem at all ?

    4) Like I said, the IAF invited the Gripen for its MRCA competition, despite 2 test-crashes and 3 crashes while in service with the Swedish Air Force.

    So, inducting Saras after it has passed its IoC certification should not be a problem for Air-India or our private airlines.

    Dozens of Airbus and Boeings have crashed in the decades gone by with hundreds of passengers killed. But that doesn't stop you or me from flying in them.

    I'll proudly fly in a certified Saras.

  42. Abhiman.
    You are only strengthening what I said about HAL/DRDO .So there you helped in proving what the IAF says and Young india knows..that HAL/DRDO will not accept the faults and push/arm twist the forces into substandard DANGEROUS produces...Thus we have the ( according to you) the most tested plane which STLL CONTINUES TO HAVE A DESIGN FLAW!!!

    On ure points 1 and 4: now your guise is some other planes crashed..its a very feeble excuse to, force the IAF or anyone else into taking a plane with a design flaw!!...

    your point here strengthens another gaspect...NO OTHER COUNTRY forces upon its forces,civilians, planes and armaments with design flaw...EXCEPT India Because some people probably think that the armed forces personnel are meant to give up their lives at the whims of HAL/DRDO,NAL the MoD and faulty equipment and to be frank the nation has had enough of the tomfoolery.
    Since again you are half cocked n like HAL/DRDO seek refuge in misinformation let me tell you a few things about swedish controllers....Any org and its directors would be in prison for Man Slaughter if they have a flawed designed shaving blade let alone a commercial aircraft / military equipment.....if they found out a mistake that slipped by or due to other circumstances had to change something, they would immediately correct it NOT LIKE YOU,THRUST upon OTHERS TO ADAPT A FLAWED DESIGN!!! Your example is akin to Legalising rape and pointing fingers at a country with a much better human/civil rights just because a rape took place there.

    2)Your point no 2 is the most technologically ridiculous statement..(even if what you say is granted though beyond technological wisdom-, thus i wont go into the details ) Next you'll say adapt underrated, flawed designed tyres as they have no direct bearings on the actual dogfight, bombings /weapons capability.BTW hat do you think the air intakes are for?..

    3)your 3rd point shows that you either close your eyes to the reason again , you avoid the writings and experience of those who flew those planes or you are actually just not bothered about india and her armed forces personnel in contrast to pushing flawed equipment to the forces
    The 21s did not have a design flaw, contrary they are of one of the best designs...this has not only be proven but endorsed by those who have flown in them and also world air forces...in contrast to the advise of starting a production line of faulty design . It would even hurt India economically as it will cost the nation more due to attrition rate,and loss of assets and lives in peace times even...in the real world a business house would close such a line.but since HAL/DRDO know that as Govt Org..they can always push underated deadly stuff on the forces thru the MoD... As far as the 'bhagwan bhaorse planes statement comes in, .."ice cream" does not become bad just because your production line sells faulty milk and spicy icecreams!! HAL produces Mig 21s of India..

    Your statement about flying SARAS after the certification.. it shows even more lacunas...
    1) if a body grants a plane with a flawed design a certificate...well thank god we havent come to that stage yet..and if we do then embarrassingly, the indian Body will be banned by every other body of the world and even sued for criminal negligence..apart from not letting that airline fly into other air spaces...and pilots exercising their right not to fly them

    2) Also Now it is clear that some people want a commercial plane to be certified so that the faulty air intake does not kill them..but the same people push for a plane with design faults into the Air force..wow..

    If you can just answer the question of why do you want to start a production line of known faulty design products....why should the IAF accept faulty designs? why should an air force pilot not protest in flying planes with Designs flaws, underrated engines in war whilst commercial pilots have the right to ban the airlines and manufacturer of the plane

  43. Rustom, get educated. Please.

  44. Hi all facts of tejas u possibly dont know:
    Ge404 engine most maintainance free need just 2 people to remove to handle
    Iaf wants fighter to instant turn at sea level, with this engine not possible therefor 414, this can be altered by changing pay load.,
    We can also possibly integrate tejas with a single Al-31 turbofan bringing it similar to j10 or even better, this being more powerful engine will make radar performance better, also this engine is heave to maintain.
    I think with 13 years or research 40 jets is a paltry amount to order, it should have been 100mk1 and 200 mk2 and 350 air sukhois, rafale to me is a burden on india with its price tag, it makes sence to take on fgfa pakfa in bigger numbers
    Hal has too much on its plate, please we dont need your basic trainer we happy with the swizz one, please deliver Tejas, sitara, rudra, lch, mta, rta70, saras and light utility helecopter.
    You cant be greedy for more when you cant deliver what is ordered.
    Please segrigate Hal and Nal visibaly not just paper let Nal make so Nal can possibly make sonething and thw workload is distrubuted.
    For HAL and ADA, IAF needs to accept indian products and nit change air staff requirements when a product nears complition, or we will for ever remain importers with no forsight of indigination only commission for import kick backs.
    I Love India but china and India cant be compared, 300 tejas would cost. 9 - 10 billion USD AND RAFALE 20 BILLION USD, the money sabed can get us 10 subs and 10 corvettes for the navy.
    Wake up India, politicians please think of the nation not just ure bank accounts, or we can never be a big brother, its high time we grow up.

  45. it is often said that the tejas is a replacement for mig 21. it may however be noted that the mig 21 has a far better range than the 300 kms combat radius of tejas. while it will be nevertheless argued that the tejas will serve only as a point defense fighter, it only goes on to prove that the tejas will not be fully able to replace in mig 21 in toto

  46. Does anyone know the LCA Tejas IOC-1 Standard Given at january 2011?

  47. YES! Makes common sense sound logic to replace ALL MIG-21's and MIG-27's currently in IAF fleets, with LCA MK1's at the earliest!! Need to expedite LRDE's AESA radar for LCA development. Together with Dash-5 HMDSS & this radar, LCA-MK1 will be a really formidable fighter- using Vympel R-77 ; Python 5's & Astra A-A missiles!!


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