IAF chief backs indigenous fighter fleet, says will build 350 aircraft by 2040 - Broadsword by Ajai Shukla - Strategy. Economics. Stuff.

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Thursday, 9 September 2021

IAF chief backs indigenous fighter fleet, says will build 350 aircraft by 2040

Air Chief Marshal RKS Bhadauria: Tejas fighters “will make the core of the aerospace industry”

 

By Ajai Shukla

Business Standard, 9th Sept 21

 

Indian Air Force (IAF) chief, Air Chief Marshal RKS Bhadauria, stated on Wednesday that the air force would procure 350 more aircraft over the next two decades, including a fleet of Tejas light combat aircraft (LCA). All efforts would be made to procure combat aircraft from indigenous sources, he said.

 

Addressing the Society of Indian Defence Manufacturers (SIDM) – the apex defence and aerospace industry body – in New Delhi, Bhadauria said: “The 123 Tejas fighters on order, including 83 improved Mark 1A fighters, will make the core of the aerospace industry in terms of budget and ecosystem.”

 

“The Tejas LCA has redefined military aviation [in India],” he said. “The level of automation achieved by the support of the aerospace industry has given the strength to act fast, decide fast and react fast.”

 

Bhadauria, a vastly experienced former test pilot, has moved away from the IAF’s decades-old penchant for importing aircraft, such as the French Rafale fighter. Instead he has firmly backed the prime minister’s “Atmanirbhar Bharat” (self-reliant India) initiative. He and his staff used the SIDM function to explain how the Tejas project has galvanised indigenous fighter production.

 

Backing Bhadauria with facts and figures was Girish Deodhare, the head of Aeronautical Development Agency (ADA), which was set up to oversee the Tejas LCA project, but is now also involved in designing and developing the next-generation Tejas Mark 2; as well as the fifth-generation Advanced Medium Combat Aircraft (AMCA), which is on the drawing board.

 

Deodhare presented an incremental development plan for indigenous manned combat aircraft, in which the current Tejas Mark 1 would be followed by the improved Mark 1A, the AMCA Mark 1, the navy’s “twin engine deck-based fighter” (TEDBF) and finally the AMCA Mark 2 by 2035.

 

Bhadauria’s staff officer, Air Vice Marshal N Tewari, rebutted criticism that the Tejas LCA had taken too long in developed. Tewari said the first 4-5 years in the Tejas fighter’s design and development cycle went in setting up testing and production facilities that are essential for aircraft development programmes.

 

“Today, if we are ready to move forward in developing a next generation fighter, it is because the Tejas programme gave us a core critical mass,” said Tiwari.

 

Tiwari, who has flown more than 200 sorties as a Tejas test pilot, said the LCA was ambitiously conceived as a technologically state-of-the-art fighter. It’s unstable design, quadruplex flight control system, computerised utilities management system and an air frame made of composite materials, make it contemporary even today, he said.

 

“When I get a feedback from the Tejas squadron today, the pilots are uniformly happy about the way the plane flies, and how well integrated it is for the pilot,” said Tiwari.

 

“We have a fighter that incorporates the best of the Russian and the western fighter design philosophies,” said Tiwari. He gave the example of the autopilot, which, in Russian fighters, allows a disoriented pilot to return his fighter to level flight by simply pressing a “level mode” button – a facility that western fighters, such as the Mirage 2000, do not have.

 

This feature has been incorporated into the Tejas fighter.

 

Tiwari said the wealth of experience gained during the Tejas development programme had overcome the key technological challenges in designing and developing the Tejas Mark 2 or the AMCA.

 

The SIDM chief, Jayant D Patil, said the defence budget has grown an average of 12-13 per cent over the last three years. This, he said, resulted in Rs 22,000 crore worth of acquisitions being granted “acceptance of necessity” (AON) – or initial clearance for acquisition – from the Indian defence ministry.




2 comments:

  1. Are we missing the Tejas Mark 2 in the road map and I quote ...
    "Deodhare presented an incremental development plan for indigenous manned combat aircraft, in which the current Tejas Mark 1 would be followed by the improved Mark 1A, the AMCA Mark 1, the navy’s “twin engine deck-based fighter” (TEDBF) and finally the AMCA Mark 2 by 2035."

    ReplyDelete
  2. How did Israeli defence technology develop the way it has? Israel is a good example of having limited national resources, but being able to focus on developing cutting edge defence technology. It seems that Israeli defence manufacturing and technology is different in some respects from that of France and Britain. France and Britain regularly design and manufacture tanks having cutting edge technology, however, fighter jets are usually a collaboration between different nations in Europe. France has the capability of manufacturing military fighter jets on its own, while Britain doesn't seem to. Can India make fighter jets in collaboration with Israel, sharing complete technology transfer? How contemporary are the assembly lines of HAL?

    ReplyDelete

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