Air force, DRDO, pleased with Tejas performance at Bahrain - Broadsword by Ajai Shukla - Strategy. Economics. Defence.

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Monday 22 February 2016

Air force, DRDO, pleased with Tejas performance at Bahrain

The Tejas performs aerobatics right over the Bahrain Formula One track

By Ajai Shukla
Business Standard, 22nd Feb 16

In a milestone for India’s Tejas light combat aircraft (LCA), two Tejas fighters travelled from India to performed aerobatics at the Bahrain International Air Show (BIAS-2016) from January 21-23. Business Standard has obtained the first official account of this first international outing, where the Tejas impressed global aerospace experts, taking an important first step towards export in the future.

This official account comes from the Indian Air Force (IAF), which is overseeing the flight test programme of the Tejas; and from the Aeronautical Development Agency (ADA), the Defence R&D Organisation body responsible for the Tejas programme.

The proposal for this outing was initiated by the Kingdom of Bahrain, which invited the defence ministry in September 2015 to display the Tejas in BIAS-2016. Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar quickly gave the go-ahead for the Tejas, and also the Embraer-mounted Airborne Early Warning System (AEWS), to travel to Bahrain.

It required a major organisational effort to get two Tejas fighters, three pilots and a fully equipped maintenance team from Hindustan Aeronautics Ltd (HAL) to Bahrain. Only then could the Tejas display its “Made-for Bahrain” aerobatics, showcasing its performance in vertical climbs, tight turns, high-speed runs and slow flying ability.

The IAF detailed one of its giant C-17 Globemaster IIIs to transport the maintenance team and equipment to Bahrain. Two Tejas fighters flew three legs, over three days --- the first from Bangalore to Jamnagar, Gujarat (1,800 kilometres); the second to Muscat (1,200 km), and the final leg to Bahrain (850 km).

The Indian Navy supported the flight over the Arabian Sea. The pilots were provided sea survival training at the new Water Survival Training Facility at Kochi. During the flights between Jamnagar and Muscat, the navy kept one P8-I maritime aircraft airborne throughout, in case a rescue was needed.

Says Commodore (Retired) CD Balaji, who heads ADA: “The Bahraini authorities made us extremely welcome. Their minister for transportation personally came to the airport to receive the Tejas fighters when they flew in. The King of Bahrain came to our stall during the exhibition. We gifted him a model of the Tejas.”

Balaji confirms that the Pakistani light fighter, the JF-17 Thunder, was to come to Bahrain but pulled out at the last minute --- it has been speculated that the Pakistan Air Force (PAF) realised it would be overshadowed by the Tejas.

“We don’t know why Pakistan pulled out the JF-17. But, yes, it was scheduled to be at Bahrain. Its parking slot, which was next to ours, was eventually occupied by the Eurofighter”, says Balaji.

The Tejas’ flight displays went off flawlessly, with pilots from the National Flight Test Centre in Bangalore having put together a special “product demonstration” performance, which showcased for potential customers the operational performance that makes it a combat-worthy fighter --- such as the ability to climb quickly and turn tightly.

The IAF, which is traditionally measured in its evaluation of the Tejas, says the fighter’s “control harmony is comparable to the best in the world… The intuitive cockpit layout and highly reliable life support systems provide for comfort as well as excellent situational awareness.”

Authoritatively detailing the Tejas’ performance parameters, the IAF says: “The LCA has a very competitive and cotemporary operational envelope. It is capable of operations up to an altitude of 50,000 feet and a maximum speed of 1.6 Mach at [high] altitudes or 730 knots… at low levels. The aircraft [can turn at] +8G to -2.5G (which allows it to U-turn in 350 metres) in operationally clean configuration… or +6G to -2.5G with other external stores.”

The IAF sums up: “The LCA Mark 1 was designed as a worthy indigenous replacement to the MiG fleet that has been the backbone of the defence of our skies for several decades. It is a safe and contemporary design with a reliable and efficient engine and many modern features.  The aircraft is cockpit friendly, agile and easy to fly.  It is this capability that was displayed in the recently concluded Bahrain International Air Show… Serial production of the aircraft by HAL has started and it is expected that fighter will be operationally inducted by IAF in 2016." 


  1. Wow , looks like all the push and shove by IAF has regulated in an great fighter. Otherwise we Indians have a habit of taking short cuts.
    Now HAL needs to deliver 16 a year consistently.
    Then ADA a new 'mark' very 5-7 years that is vastly improved. It will be great to have a light fighter Design bureau on the line of Russian/chinese design institutes.

  2. Mr Shukla, can you please reply to this question?

    Your last para: "The IAF sums up:...". Now who in the IAF summed this up? Can you name the person with his rank?


  3. @Ajay-ji,

    Shouldn't it be +8G to -3.5G (which allows it to U-turn in 350 metres) ?

    Instead of +8G to -2.5G

  4. NSR says ---

    Shameless IAF and it is only getting on this bandwagon after the fact...

    IAF does not have or had a vision and still does not and still does not take ownership of design and development like Indian Navy...

    Forever IAF was damning the LCA / Tejas...

    Gutting HF-24 Marut was a catastrophic mistake and IAF must immediately take charge of fighter jet development in India...

    Colnel Shukla need to write why so many captains are dying in terrorism...

    Did he see how Pakistani soldiers are going in APC and APVs to fight terrorists...What happened to Indian vehicles...why they are going on foot??? Some of them do not even have bullet proof vests...very sad indeed and an Indian firm selling vests and night visions to foreign countries whereas our MOD returns the acquisition money back to government...Something drastic needs to be done...India can't afford to lose senior personnel like this...

    I hope that HAL keeps the quality so it would not give IAF a cause to ground everything...

  5. Such words from the IAF for the Tejas are a treat. I think its for the first time in recent memory that IAF has lavished praise for Tejas.

    Did you also notice small thing ? The IAF said that and I quote, "...a worthy indigenous replacement to the MiG fleet that has been the backbone of the defence of our skies for several decades."

    So, the Tejas is now a replacement for the entire MIG Fleet, and not just the primitive MiG-21. This is a historic statement by the IAF.

    The Tejas has finally come of age. Now, the IAF must welcome it into its fleet rapidly.

  6. @ Anonymous 00:55

    Who in the IAF summed it up? That's not relevant. The IAF, as an institution, has cleared this release. Individuals are secondary.

  7. @Broadsword
    "The IAF, as an institution, has cleared this release."
    Only after the Defence Minister made them feel very uncomfortable at very wrong places. IAF's behaviour during the Rafale negotiation has been downright deplorable; like a wife falling in love with the Mercedes car before the price has been negotiated. And the IAF is not even thinking of the emerging drone technologies; treating it as a job security issue.

  8. Do not know whether to laugh or cry at the IAF turncoats. They somehow remind me of the situation in JNU, live in India, eat from Indian tax payers money, deride Indian products and look for phoren stuff.

  9. Now is the time to export Tejas everywhere in the world. Why not target at least 1 000 aircraft sold this decade. This is the time to exploit a gap in the market, where there is no competition and many other countries also need replacements for the Mig-21.

    Vietnam is just one example.

  10. Situation aisi hai...Maalik ne itne varsh naukrani ko gaali di, aur ab naukrani ko rani bana rahe hain....wah IAF wah...Pehle squadron service main le liya hota to aaj itne saare defects nahin hote Tejas main. Jis tarah desi mem ko chhod ke gori ko pakadte hain usi tarah desi Tejas thu thu. Rafale ko sar pe bitha diya...

  11. @Ajai Shukla
    Till 2014 in the stratpost vayu roundtable, which you also were a part of, the IAF marshals bashed up HAL and Tejas real good... So how is that the LCA is suddenly extolled by the IAF?!! Has LCA really met IAF's expectation in the last couple of years?(... I doubt)

    What role is IAF looking for Tejas? Is it just going to be a Lead-in fighter trainer after AJTs?? maybe MOFTU will have Tejas

  12. Many penned obituaries of LCA Tejas . They will be disheartened

  13. Dear Ajay sir,
    Great article again....
    A lot of misconceptions about the IAF
    .... Let's not doubt them and compare them to anti national clowns. They're the ones who will risk their lives and penetrate the enemy borders.....
    So let's give them the best available.

    Id rather go with the opinion on the junior most IAF guy than with Mr. Parrikar....or our esteemed babus.

    Sitting in AC offices and seeing people die in the line of duty has become a habit for them... Frankly i feel ...They don't care...not more than the having to face a difficult parliament session.
    We as a country have to understand as to who is gaining what by getting the rafale.
    The Iaf guys won't take the plane home.... They will just have a machine that performs as advertised.
    The LCA needs improvement... And they have come a long way... Only because of the continuous rebuttal by the IAF...

    We have to understand... Lives of generations of brilliant fighter pilots are at stake.... How do you want them to accept an underperforming aircraft???

    If your sons were going in to the Iaf.... What would you have them fly???
    The doubtful LCA or the trusted rafale.....

  14. What is the basis of evaluation ? Reliability is no more subjective but objective ?
    In other countries specifications do not change during the development phase ? Why did the same happen during the development phase of LCA? Those who feel LCA is an underperfoming platform , should also clarify as to under performance with respect to what ? Today one has to objectively conclude whether LCA Tejas can replace the ageing MIG 21s ? I feel an IAF pilot will be safer in LCA Tejas as compared to the MIG-21s?


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