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    HAL Tejas LCA (Light Combat Aircraft) Multirole Fighter Aircraft

    The HAL Tejas was officially taken into service by the Indian Air Force in July 2016 - marking a milestone for the 30-year-old supersonic jet fighter program - the Navy has rejected it.

     Updated: 1/31/2017; Authored By Staff Writer; Content ¬©www.MilitaryFactory.com

    The HAL Tejas is India's newest and latest fighter platform and represents an indigenous design effort culminating from decades of research and development. The HAL Tejas was born from an internal Indian initiative to produce a home-grown fighter design and her ultimate development stemmed from the Light Combat Aircraft (LCA) program enacted in the 1980s in an effort to replace the Soviet Cold War-era Mikoyan-Gurevich MiG-21 "Fishbed" interceptors then in service with the Indian Air Force (IAF). As it stands, the HAL Tejas will become only the second aircraft design by HAL (Hindustan Aeronautics Limited) of India to have inherent supersonic capabilities (the other being the HAL Marut of the 1960s). As of January 2011, the Tejas has been formally accepted into operational service with the IAF with a planned procurement contract to number some 200 single-seat aircraft as well as a further 20 two-seat trainers. The Indian Navy is also considering purchase of the new mount with a 40-strong order in an effort to replace its aging fleet of Sea Harriers and related trainers.

    In 1969, Hindustan Aeronautics Limited was selected by Indian authorities to develop a new multirole fighter airframe. Design studies ensued until the project was ultimately shelved due to a lack of a suitable powerplant. After the collapse of the initial attempt, the LCA program was begun in 1983 with the primary goal of replacing the MiG-21 with a secondary internal goal of advancing India's aviation industry. The MiG-21 had served as the backbone of the IAF for decades and was available in large numbers but her days had become obviously marked and her long-term usefulness was suspect considering the advances in military technology in other parts of the world. Up to this point, India had long relied on outside help to stock her aircraft inventories - particularly from the Soviet/Russian firms of Mikoyan and Sukhoi - but the country had advanced to a point that it was appropriate to look for indigenous solutions to her military needs.

    In 1984, the Aeronautical Development Agency (ADA) was founded to oversee the LCA program. The ADA consisted of a broad mix of over 100 manufacturing, academic and defense institutions and represented the solid capabilities of a growing Indian infrastructure. HAL was still retained as the primary defense contractor and would charged with handling development and production of the new fighter. ADA was critical to the development of new avionics, flight controls and various integrated onboard management systems. GTRE (Gas Turbine Research Establishment) of Bangalore was tabbed to produce the engine to power the new aircraft. They began work on what would become the GTX-35VS "Kaveri" afterburning turbofan. First flight was scheduled for April of 1990 with operational service to begin sometime in 1995.

    However, it was not until October of 1985 that the IAF officially delivered their formal requirements to the design establishment, thusly cancelling any of the preplanned milestone dates. The delay did serve the ADA rightly for the institutions were, in essence, given extra years to evolve, mature and formulate in-house concepts and become a more potent developmental force as a whole. The LCA program was refined by September of 1998 and the French aviation firm of Dassault was called in to review the completed plan. The plan was officially finalized in 1990 and a new multirole fighter of Indian origin was more or less born.

    The development would cover two distinct phases that included the proof of concept and first basic prototypes in the first phase as well as additional refined prototypes with a production-quality example and technology demonstrators in the second phase. Technology demonstrators were delivered in 2001 and 2002 with a first flight completed on January 4th, 2001. Prototypes followed in 2003 through 2009 and early production forms were received for review beginning in 2007. The name of "Tejas" was supplied to the new design by then-acting Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee. To date, only six prototypes and at least eight limited series production aircraft have been completed but the program remains ongoing and is progressing. Over the span of 10 years, some 1,508 flights (some involving munitions deliveries) have been recorded.

    Externally, the Tejas will field a most conventional shape. Her design is dominated by the use of a compound delta wing planform negating the need for horizontal tail planes (i.e. she is a "tail-less delta"). The large wing area adds additional internal volume for fuel and avionics and promotes increased underwing and underfuselage hardpoints for munitions and fuel as well as improved high maneuverability and an increased angle of attack. The major disadvantage of the delta planform is the increased drag brought about by the larger wing surface area and loss of energy in high speed turns. The fuselage is cylindrical in nature, capped at the forward end by the nose cone housing the available radar array. The cockpit sits just aft of the nose cone installation and is covered over in a two-piece canopy with light framing. While making for excellent forward, upward and side views, the canopy joins the fuselage spine and obstructs the rear view to an extent. The pilot will initially have access to a Martin-Baker "Zero-Zero" ejection seat until this system is replaced by an Indian design. Wings are mid-mounted along the fuselage sides and the roots contour elegantly into the fuselage proper. The single engine is aspirated by two half-circle air intakes located under each leading wing root. The empennage is dominated by a single vertical tail fin which sits atop the internal tailpipe works. The engine exhausts at the rear through a conventional circular nozzle. The undercarriage is also conventional, featuring a pair of main landing gear legs and a nose landing gear leg.

    HAL Tejas Mk.1 Technical Specifications

    Service Year: 2016
    Type: Multirole Fighter Aircraft
    National Origin: India
    Manufacturer(s): Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL) - India
    Production Total: 30

    Structural (Crew Space, Dimensions and Weights)

    Operating Crew: 1
    Length: 43.31 feet (13.2 meters)
    Width: 26.90 feet (8.20 meters)
    Height: 14.44 feet (4.40 meters)

    Weight (Empty): 14,462 lb (6,560 kg)
    Weight (MTOW): 29,762 lb (13,500 kg)

    Installed Power and Standard Day Performance

    Engine(s): 1 x General Electric F404-GE-IN20 afterburning turbofan engine developing 19,000 lb thrust.

    Maximum Speed: 1,370 mph (2,205 kph; 1,191 knots)
    Maximum Range: 1,056 miles (1,700 km)
    Service Ceiling: 52,493 feet (16,000 meters; 9.94 miles)

    Armament / Mission Payload

    1 x 23mm GSh-23 twin-barrel internal cannon.

    Air-to-air, air-to-surface, laser-guided and conventional drop/launch ordnance as needed. External fuel and LITENING targeting pod can replace some weapon systems at certain hardpoints.

    Global Operators / Customers


    Model Variants (Including Prototypes)

    "Tejas" - Base Series Name

    TD-1 - Technology Demonstrator

    TD-2 - Technology Demonstrator

    PV-1 - Prototype

    PV-2 - Prototype

    PV-3 - Prototype; basis of first production version.

    PV-4 - Proposed naval version; becoming second production version.

    PV-5 - Dual Fighter-Trainer Platform

    NP-1 - Naval Two-Seat Variant

    NP-2 - Naval Single-Seat Variant

    LSP-1 - Limited Series Production Model

    LSP-2 - Limited Series Production Model; fitted with 1 x GE-404-IN20 series turbofan engine.

    LSP-3 - Limited Series Production Model; fitted with Hybrid MMR radar system.

    LSP-4 - Limited Series Production Model; Indian Air Force standard; fitted with MMR radar system, IFF and Countermeasure Dispensing System.

    LSP-5 - Limited Series Production Model; fitted with all sensors and auto-pilot system.

    LSP-6 - Limited Series Production Model; test platform.

    LSP-7 - Limited Series Production Model; evaluation model for IAF.

    LSP-8 - Limited Series Production Model; evaluation model for IAF.

    Tejas Trainer - Proposed Two-Seat Trainer Conversion Model based on production single-seat version.

    Tejas Navy - Proposed Navalized single-seat Tejas; reinforced airframe and undercarriage; revised downward-sloped nose for improved ground visibility.

    Tejas Mk.1 - Initial production model with GE F404-IN20 turbofan engine of 19,000lb thrust output; limited attack capabilities.

    Tejas Mk.1A - Interim model with improved capabilities bridging gap to Mk.2 production model; Elta/HAL AESA radar fit; in-flight refueling capability; external self-defense jammer equipment; lightweight by 2,200lb; powered by GE 404 turbofan engine; first-flight expected in 2018.

    Tejas Mk.2 - More powerful, refined Tejas single-seat fighter; fitting uprated GE F414-INS6 turbofan engine; revised aerodynamic qualities.

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