LCA Tejas: New Light Combat Aircraft of Indian Air Force

by Sachin Kumar on January 11, 2014

The HAL Tejas is a single engine multirole Light Combat Aircraft developed by India. The Tejas is a compound delta wing configuration aircraft, with no tail-planes or fore-planes, and a single dorsal fin. It came from the Light Combat Aircraft (LCA) programme, which began in the 1980s to replace India’s ageing MiG-21 fighters.

LCA-tejas-header

On Dec 2013, Tejas received Initial Operational Clearance for induction into the Air Force which cleared its way to be inducted into IAF, 30 years after the sanction of the programme. To fulfill the IOC-II standard, the aircraft was certified to carry close to three tons of weapons which include laser-guided 500 kg bombs and short-range R-73 missiles, reach top speeds of 1,350 km per hour, withstand turns up to 7G, reach angle of attack of 24 degrees (from 17 degrees initially), and have an operational radius of 400–500 km.

IOC II signifies that the Tejas is airworthy in different conditions and can now be flown by regular IAF pilots, but it will have to pass several key tests before receiving the ‘Final Operational Clearance’ (FOC). FOC will involve firing a range of different weapons, including missiles and bombs, and testing the fighter for mid-air refueling. After obtaining FOC for the Tejas, work on the Tejas Mark II will start. The key change is replacing the General Electric F-404 engine that powers the Mark I with the larger, more powerful GE F-414 engine. This will involve re-engineering the Mark I to fit in the bulkier F-414.

Tejas Mark II would have more fuel capacity for added range; a retractable mid-air refuelling system; a DRDO-built Airborne Electronically Scanned Array radar; world beating air-to-air missiles; an on-board oxygen-generating system, and a state-of-the-art Electronic Warfare suite to confuse enemy radars and sensors. The IAF has committed to just 40 Tejas fighters. Of these, 20 will be built to IOC standards, and the next 20 ordered when Final Operation Clearance (FOC) is obtained. Eventually, the IAF is very likely to have at least 200 Tejas fighters in its fleet.

The LCA is constructed of aluminium-lithium alloys, carbon-fibre composites (C-FC), and titanium-alloy steels. The Tejas employs C-FC materials for up to 45% of its airframe by weight, including in the fuselage (doors and skins), wings (skin, spars and ribs), elevons, tailfin, rudder, air brakes and landing gear doors. Composites are used to make an aircraft both lighter and stronger at the same time compared to an all-metal design, and the LCA’s percentage employment of C-FCs is one of the highest among contemporary aircraft of its class. Apart from making the plane much lighter, there are also fewer joints or rivets, which increases the aircraft’s reliability and lowers its susceptibility to structural fatigue cracks.

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{ 1 comment… read it below or add one }

pratik April 17, 2014 at 3:05 pm

Uday Sir thanks for the info…..felt proud to know about Tejas

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