The Tejas Engine Quagmire + Tejas hot weather trials results

There was a briefing at South Block today at which it was finally official (posted on this before, and there have been at least three newspaper reports) that the IAF can't reconcile itself with the thrust that the GE-404-IN20 coughs out of the LCA. Its interest in the Eurojet turbofan and GE-414 has been shot down by HAL because they say it'll involve way too many changes to the aft fuselage, and possibly the intakes as well. In effect, everyone involved faces an expensive foreign joint venture, though the details are still sketchy. Worse still, the first 40 LCAs will only have a "limited weapons payload" capacity as a result of the thrust shortfall. Things look grey.

Anyway, on another note, I just got this press release from DRDO regarding the hot weather trials of the Light Combat Aircraft (LCA Tejas):
The Tejas Light Combat Aircraft underwent hot weather flight trials at Air Force Station, Nagpur ftom 28 May to 04 June 2008. The trials were planned at Nagpur because of the high ambient temperature conditions prevailing there during this period. The aim of the trials was to check operation of the aircraft systems under high ambient temperature conditions of over 40 deg C, representative of the stringent conditions the aircraft would be expected to operate in, after induction into the Indian Air Force. The Team which carried out the trials is a composite team with members from IAF (AF), ADA. HAL. CEMILAC, DGAQA. with support from Air Force Station, Nagpur and Maintenance Command, IAF.

All aircraft systems, specifically the avionics system, flight control system and air conditioning system were tested extensively during the trials and all systems were seen to operate satisfactorily on ground as well in flight. A total of seven flights amounting to four hours were flown at Nagpur on two prototype aircraft PV2 and PV3. The tests included flights at 200m above ground and speeds up to 1000 km/h after 'hot soaking' the aircraft on tarmac for 2 to 4 hours, where the aircraft skin temperature reached values in excess of 70 deg C. The test flights were monitored in real time using a mobile telemetry station of Aeronautical Development Agency (ADA), positioned at Nagpur for this purpose.

This was the first time that the Tejas aircraft had flown to a distance of about 1000 km from Bangalore non-stop. This was possible due to the presence of external fuel tanks (drop tanks) on the aircraft which were integrated recently. This was also the first time that the Tejas aircraft had been flown at such high ambient temperature conditions. A first look at the test data indicated that all the trials objectives were met satisfactorily. A large amount of data bas been collected and is under detailed analysis by the aircraft designers at ADA and HAL. The aircraft is next planned for operations over the deserts of Rajasthan, delivering precision guided bombs, later this year.

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