Tejas team to present “best ever” aerobatics at Bahrain - Broadsword by Ajai Shukla - Strategy. Economics. Defence.

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Saturday 9 January 2016

Tejas team to present “best ever” aerobatics at Bahrain

By Ajai Shukla
Business Standard, 10th Jan 15

India’s home-grown Tejas light combat aircraft (LCA) might never fire a shot in anger at its Pakistani counterpart, the JF-17 Thunder. Yet, the Tejas is already squaring off against the JF-17. When the Indian fighter performs aerobatics at the forthcoming Bahrain International Air Show (BIAS) international aviation experts will directly compare it with the JF-17, which flew at the Paris Air Show in July.

The Tejas team is geared up to impress the experts in its international debut. Business Standard learns that the Aeronautical Development Agency (ADA), which oversees the Tejas’ development, has put together a flying routine that “significantly surpasses any aerobatics display the fighter has presented earlier.”

“So far, we have always flown with large safety margins in hand. At Bahrain, we will show the spectators what the Tejas can really do, how much energy the fighter has”, says an ADA official closely associated with the preparations.

The “Made-for Bahrain” display routine will test the Tejas’ limits in vertical climbs, high-speed runs, tight turns and the fighter’s slow flying ability.

With the flight-test programme having recently cleared the Tejas for 8G turns (which create stresses on the aircraft that are eight times the force of gravity), the performance at Bahrain will include two 8G turns in front of the display stand.

“We do not intend to return to India feeling we could have done more. Aerospace experts will scrutinise every performance, and recordings of these, over succeeding months. We hope to make it worth their while,” says the ADA official.

Two Tejas fighters will fly to Bahrain for the air show on January 21-23. These fighters, along with three pilots, are already at an air base in Gujarat, practising their routine in sea level conditions akin to Bahrain. In mid-January, they will fly to Muscat, and then to Bahrain.

Air show performances serve various aims. Some displays are structured to entertain spectators with spectacular, but technically easy, flying. Others emphasise pilots’ skills, such as close-flying displays. The Tejas, however, will present a “product demonstration”, which showcases for potential customers the performance aspects that make it a good combat aircraft --- such as the ability to climb quickly and turn tightly.

“A good ‘product demonstration’ must translate dry capability statistics into actual flying performance that makes an impact on potential customers”, explains a veteran test pilot.

As the Tejas has passed performance milestones in a flight-test programme that began in 2001, it has flown and climbed faster and turned tighter, transforming the sedate “flying displays” of the mid-2000s into today’s exhilarating aerobatics.

Tejas pilots and ADA officials are confident the fighter will bear the stress of edge-of-the-envelope flying for several weeks. “The Tejas is often criticised for being too heavy. But that also makes it a structurally strong aircraft, with plenty of reserve strength to push the performance envelope,” says a veteran Tejas test pilot.

While the Tejas aims to entertain the spectators, and enthuse the aerospace analysts, the primary intention of featuring it at Bahrain is for evaluation by prospective buyers, who study recordings of air show performances.

“Big aerospace corporations like Boeing, Lockheed Martin and Dassault have in-house media teams, which produce high-quality, professional recordings of their aircrafts’ performances. ADA is handicapped in this respect”, rues an official.

The JF-17 Thunder, which already equips three squadrons of the Pakistan Air Force (PAF), enjoys a lead of several years over the Tejas. Numerous press reports suggest that Sri Lanka has asked to buy the fighter, although Colombo denies this.

The JF-17 has also been more visible internationally. It debuted in 2010 in a static display at the Farnborough Air Show in the UK, and has flown in several air shows, most recently at Paris in July 2015.

However, the fourth-generation Tejas is technologically superior to the third-generation JF-17. Built of composite materials, the Tejas is more manoeuvrable, has better avionics and can carry more fuel and weapons.

Eventually, however, customers seek assured production and delivery, and in that the JF-17 is ahead. Pakistan’s Kamra factory has already delivered 66 fighters to the PAF, assembled for the most part with Chinese components. Hindustan Aeronautics Ltd has delivered only a single Tejas to the Indian Air Force.


  1. Very foolhardy, if it crashes, India will become the laughing stock of the world. Plus you can forget about export orders "forever".

    OTOH...I can see the advantages, but this is the first time the bird is heading out the country. Take it easy........

    I hope the bird flies well. Will be in my prayers...

  2. I fail to see any advantage to our nation in showcasing tejas. first of all when our generals are only delaying tejas induction in our own air force what prevents them from creating an incident at the international air debut and therby calling for a review of all security aspects which even manohar parikkar despite all his good intentions cannot override.?secondly tejas was not developed for selling to international clients..we need it for our own air force and we do not have the capability to produce sufficient nos now.moreover because the generals keep changing their requirements from two seaters to avionics to more thrust to more power etc..they create a situation where the induction of foreign aircrafts becomes a necessity.thirdly which nation other than usa and russia showcase their initial abilitiachieve by showcasing to international vendors some of whom want to sell their aircrafts to india..as mentioned above we have no capabilities to sell the aircraft internationally because we cannot produce enough for our own needs.the best brains in international aviation hired by the best aircraft manufacturer will be present there to dissect the tejas...they will analyse any loopholes and guide our air force generals in a particular way to pick holes..and forewarning pakistan or china with our abilities does not help us in any way..

  3. Super excited!! Every Test Pilot who flew the aircraft highlighted it's great manoeuvrability.

    HAL you be ready.. a flood gate of international orders are going to open.

  4. I wish we as a nation learn to do & then talk about whatever has been done

  5. the Tejas will out do the JF-17 any day. He who laughs last laughs longest!

  6. Whats the point of showcasing the tejas to international potential buyers when you havnt been able to deliver even one squadron to the indian air force.It will only serve other aircraft manufacturers who wish to sell to us picking up holes in our tejas.

  7. Hope the pilots are not being put under undue and needless pressure to perform beyond the capabilities of the aircraft.

  8. The comments here show the amount of negativism in the country. This is probably posted by stooges of foreign companies whose entire commissions are cut by the dynamic RM and his bold measures. God bless the project and may the LCA come out with flying colours. It is preposterous to suggest so many things that are mentioned in the ridiculous comments Unbelievable!!

  9. @ Desh

    U need to edit your post !... First The Air Force does not have Generals!!! second, think you are misusing the term "Loop Holes"

  10. Putting things in perspective, there are two separate issues regarding the participation of the Tejas fighter in the Bahrain air show - first the aircraft itself and, second the production lines required to manufacture the aircraft should it succeed in catching the eye of foreign buyers.

    The aircraft itself - By available accounts, the Tejas is a decently built fourth generation fighter, with advanced composite materials and top of the line avionics. Test pilots who have flown the aircraft are in agreement that it is highly manoeuvrable and agile. So, we can expect it to put up a good show at Bahrain and one would venture to say, interest quite a few among the discerning experst.

    The production lines for the aircraft - This is virtually non-existent at the moment. For all the Make-in-India rhetoric, HAL has been lagging behind in ramping up its production capacities, not only for the Tejas but any fixed wing or rotary aircraft the Indian Air Force decides to buy in the near future. As someone rightly pointed out, it has not even begun delivering the aircraft to its first customer, the Indian Air Force. So, the objective of show casing the Tejas to international audiences from a point of view of pure sales is highly optimistic.

    Having said so, let us cheer the Tejas in its maiden international debut, out of nationalistic fervour if not for anything else!

  11. Why don't our Guys show the best ever Tejas display to Indians first ?

  12. Tejas Aircraft has enormous capabilities for Future. PAF is already operating the JF-17 but Tejas still needs FOC.Induction of Jf-17 in PAF has it's own Pro and Cons for both India and Pakistan ......As,PAF is at advantage that it's going to replace it's old-age vintage Fighter aircrafts with more equipped JF-17's and disadvantage for India as the numeric superiority between IAF and PAF has decreased from 3:1 to 1.5:1,this is not a good news for India at all.But, as there are always two faces of a Coin, in this condition India has some advantages over PAF....AS,PAF developed JF-17 with a joint venture with Chinese and most of the critical technology and next generation Technological R&D is done on the Chinese side , whereas Production part came to Pakistan but for Tejas most of the technological R&D is done indigenously and many new Technological achievements are also achieved as A maturity in manufacturing Carbon composite structures for Fighter jets and other Avionics related achievements.
    Earlier, induction of JF-17's does PAF a head start in Manufacturing Aircraft Indigenously but this gives IAF an idea that what kind of an aircraft Tejas will be facing in the future .....This is one big advantage that Nobody is able to see just like our Politicians and Bureaucrats....This one of the main reason the IAF is going to accept Tejas mk1a only with AESA radars, Mid air refuelling capabilities and Better Electron Warfare suites .
    But,still there is an unsolved problem i.e. to increase the strength of IAF squadrons.....Government has already cleared that it is not interested in buying further Rafale Fighter jets but still IAF needs MMRCA's to keep maintain it's superiority in the region , specially against Pakistan.
    The best option is to buy 100 or more Mirage-2000 jets from France and UAE....French Airforce is replacing it's Mirage-2000 B,C and N models with Rafale jets ....This should be used as a great opportunity to buy Second-Hand Mirage-2000's to increase the squadron strength of IAF....IAF already has Mirage-2000 in it's inventory and it' better to have these jets with serviceable life of upto 20 years or more in IAF as this the most cost effective method in powering the IAF with Quality and Quantity ....These Mirage-2000's can be equipped with Israel's Elta's EL/M-2052 AESA Radars, which are already going to be used in HAL Tejas Mk1a .....IAF is going to use the Mirage-2000's upto 2040,so it's better to use them in greater numbers.

  13. Shri. Jean Luc Pickard, the Test Pilots who're slated to fly the Tejas at Bahrain are fully briefed about its flight envelop. They themselves have test-flown it numerous times, or they'll be provided a detailed test report of the Tejas' capabilities.

    You can feign your concern for the pilots vis-a-vis MiG-21s stationed at Pathankot. You see, those things are known to fall from the air like bricks. I hope you're well aware of that.


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