A Security Cabinet Committee on Wednesday cleared the acquisition of 83 Mk-1A Tejas fighter Aircraft. It is an Indigenous built first successful frontline fighter jet for India. HAL developed it with the indigenous military aviation sector.
These 83 fighters, whose delivery begins three years after the actual contract was coloured in early February, will have 43 “improvements” compared to the 40 Tejas Mark-1 already ordered by the IAF. The defence minister Rajnath Singh said that “This agreement will be a game-changer for confidence in the Indian defence industry”.
‘The Light Combat Aircraft Tejas will be the backbone of the IAF fighter jet in the coming years. LCA-Tejas contains a large number of new technologies many of which have never been attempted in India. The indigenous base of Tejas was 50% in the Mk-1A variant which is further increased to 60%. “The second-line manufacturing unit is set up by HAL in Nasik and Bengaluru. ‘Equipped with the supplemented infrastructure, the HAL will send the LCA-Mk1A production for timely deliveries to the IAF,’ he said.
There are generally three versions of LCA TEJAS developed : Tejas MK1, Tejas MK1-A and Tejas MK2
As of 2019, the Indian Air Force(IAF) planned to buy a total of 324 Tejas in various variants. The first batch of Mk-1 aircraft consists of a total of 40 aircraft in which consists of 16 initial operational authorization (IOC) standards that were issued early 2019.
The aircraft saw the light of day in 1969 but this program was approved in April 1993. The entire Tejas Mk1, Mk1A and Mk2 fleet, that is to say, MWF will be equipped with engines from the General Electric series F404 and F414. As such, the Kaveri program has failed to provide a viable domestic engine capable of meeting the thrust requirements of the Mk1 itself.
HAL Tejas Mk1
16 Tejas Mk 1 is currently in service out of 40 Tejas Mk 1 ordered at a cost of INR 88 billion (~ $ 1.25 billion), including 16 single-seaters in IOC configuration, and 16 others in FOC configuration and eight two-seater coaches.
|First flight||January 4, 2001|
|Introduction||January 17, 2015|
|Primary User||Indian Air Force|
|Program cost||₹ 11,096 crore ($ 1.6 billion)|
(Until March 2016)
|Unit cost||₹ 162 crores (the US $ 23 million) for IOC|
₹ 299.45 crores (the US $ 42 million) for the FOC
|Crew||1 or 2|
|Length/Width/Height||13.2 m/8.2 m/4.4 m|
|Fuel capacity||2,458 kg internal and 5,300 kg of external tanks.|
|Engine||1 × General Electric F404-GE-IN20 turbojet, 53.9 kN dry thrust, 90 kN with afterburner.|
|Maximum speed||Mach 1.6|
|Combat range||500 km with internal tanks|
|Empty range||3,200 km with 2x external drop tanks|
|Wing load||255.2 kg / m2|
|Pistols||1 GSh-23 twin-barrel 23 mm gun|
Elta EL / M-2032 Hybrid Multimode All-Weather Fire Control Radar with Day and Night Capability
Deficiencies in Tejas MK1 and reason to develop MK1-A
In May 2015, the LCA Tejas Mk 1 aircraft was criticized by the Controller and Auditor General of India (CAG) for not fulfilling IAF requirements, such as the lack of a tandem trainer aircraft capabilities, electronic warfare capabilities, radar alert receiver performance deficiencies. or missile approach warning system, increased weight and costs, limited internal fuel capacity, fuel system protection non-compliance, inadequate forward-facing pilot protection and reduced performance due to an underpowered engine. In 2015, ADA, DRDO and HAL offered a more advanced Tejas Mk 1A version.
Another major improvement of Mark 1A is its greater maintainability, hot refuelling, and in-flight refuelling. On December 20, 2017, the IAF issued a tender to purchase 83 Mark 1A worth 33,200 crore from HAL, but later, due to the interference of the Defense Ministry, the costs were reduced to between ₹ 250 crore-₹ 275 crore (the US $ 35-39 million) for 73 Tejas Mk-1A and 10 Tejas Mk- 1 training jets bringing the value to around Rs 22,825 crore.
It was rejected by the Indian Navy after its various trails.
Why IAF accepted the 40 HAL LCA Tejas despite its bad performance
It was reported that the IAF had agreed to accept 40 aircraft even though the CAG found serious operational shortcomings including engine thrust, overweight, and protection of the pilot up front against 7 calibre cartridges, 62 mm. The IAF agreed to accept the initial Tejas aircraft with some shortcomings to continue the program. The IAF had initially ruled out any further acquisitions of Tejas Mk 1 until Mk 2 was ready.
HAL Tejas MK1-A
Total 83 LCA Tejas MK1-A has been ordered by Indian Air force whose delivery will start from 2023.
Unit cost- ₹275 crores(US$39 million)
Tejas Mk-1A platform will be starting its flight trials with DRDO developed On-board oxygen generation system (OBOGS) in 2020.
HAL Tejas MK2
Why Tejas MK2 is required
Total of 201 HAL LCA Tejas Mk-2 will be probably delivered to IAF.
It is a twin-engine aircraft. The HAL LCA Tejas mk2 will be more advanced and upgraded than the mk1 and mk1-a. The Mark 2, which is now classified as a medium-weight fighter, also features ‘an integrated indigenous survival system. -An On-Board Oxygen Generation System (ILSS-OBOGS) weighing 14.5 kg that utilizes variable pressure adsorption technique and a built-in electro-optical electronic warfare suite, among other avionics enhancements.
LCA Tejas Mark-II will have better serviceability, faster weapon load times, improved survivability, a better combination of electronic warfare and radar which greatly improves its capability. It has air-to-air and air-to-ground attack capabilities.
Indian Navy will look after Texas MK2 after its trails on Aircraft Carriers, although Texas MK1 has failed badly.
Unit cost- ₹367 crore (US $50 million) (expected)
First flight- 2022(expected)
The Tejas Mark 2 is expected to be ready for series production by 2025–26.