Thursday, December 15, 2011

COLUMN | The Tejas May Be A Winner

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Anonymous said...

Ok, this article doesn't stress much on LCA's MMR, EW capabilities, its avionics suite, mission computers, data links and network centric capabilities and uses obsolete figures (weight = 5.9 tons ?? 6.65 as per the official Tejas website for Mk1 and yet undeclared for Mk2). Articles such as this do more harm than good.


Anonymous said...

Eagerly waiting for that day.

Anonymous said...

A very well written article that highlights the advance tejas

DJ said...

I like Mr Joshi's positive tone but sadly the DODO has not been able to woo our own air force to commit to LCA.. While TATA has made ailing Jaguar/ Landeover profitable in 2 yrs !
That's the difference between business and govt

Anonymous said...

Sorry for asking the stubid question of the day..but how do I read this article (in fine print that is) :)

Atul said...

The IAF has been expressing its unhappiness at lack of performance in LCA MK-1 at the CAS/VCAS level in numerous fora. The Mk-2 is behind schedule. It will enter IAF service in meaningful nos only around 2020.

Comparing the Tejas to some of the outstanding fighter designs of the 20th century in the F-16 and Mirage 2000 that too when Tejas Mk-2 is yet to enter service is a bit much.

Exporting the Tejas seems like a pipedream considering that the engine is american, the radar and ew suite will be imported as will the weapons.

A reality check on the Tejas is badly needed !!

NP said...

It is first hope for india in aircraft marketing to other nations..hope any one give order 4 that...
thax 4 blog...
by the way when its naval brother will fly??I hope before newyear!!!
& Deal for MMRCA also..

Anonymous said...

Its a classic case of Project Management disaster. "Too little too late", 2014 for FOC ? Till then we should have FGFA. Anyway, to those who need a lesson in project management, "always set achievable expectations and deliver more than expected results and before scheduled time", those are the hallmarks of an efficient management. With the likes of our defense research orgs, its a total waste of time and energy of our nations youth. I would also like to suggest, to give armed forces a 60% stake in Military-Industrial complexes and design research areas. Things will move surprisingly efficiently with less wastage.

sjjs12 said...

LCA should be a game changer for Indian Defence industry,only if the people who matter have a little time for this!

Joy said...

I think the window for LCA to grab world market as a viable replacement for legacy Mig aircrafts is fast closing and there are already plenty of competitors in that catagory. HAL does not really have a reputation for fast production or good quality control let alone the fact that its international market base is still as yet non-existant. None of that is likely to change overnight. Tejas maybe a good aircraft but its a bit of a stretch to start thinking big at a time when international gaints like Dassault,Saab, Mig and EADs are facing financial crunch. The opportunity is definitely there but after 3 decades of sluggish pace its highly unlikely to performa a miracle in the international market. Aircrafts like Gripen and JF-17 have been in production for a while now and has been successfully inducted in many countries, while Tejas is still yet to go into full scale production.

Joy said...

@Atul(12.03) Swedish Saab Gripen has American GE engine and American AMRAAM weapon suite. Chinese JF-17 has Russian RD-93 engines and will likely have Italian Grifo radar. None of that makes it a bad choice for export.

Joy said...

It is a little extreme to hurl unflattering labels like "disaster" on Tejas. Believe it or not, Tejas is quite an awesome piece of aircraft. It can quite easily do it job and hold it own against any present and most future aircrafts in Pakistani and Chinese inventory. It is not all DRDO's fault that LCA has had such a bad run. First there was American technology embargo and then there was the ever changing IAF requirements that made development of LCA much more complicated. The LCA could have very easily ended up as another lame ass techology demonstrator project but instead today we have a real modern fighter and more importantly an industrial stepping stone for the future AMCA. That in itself is a HUGE advantage.

Atul said...

Joy(2:48)Point taken.The fact remains that the amount of imported content on LCA would hobble India's efforts to present it as a viable alternative in the global market.

I have been a huge fan of the Tejas, its a great effort. However its just taking way too long, The Mk-2 will be delayed, and as a result the entry into service of LCA Navy will be delayed as it uses the same engine as Mk-2. It will remain a stepchild for HAL as ADA will hog all the credit, but the large amount of design work, production, spares support and overhaul will land on HAL's doorstep.
It is in this context that one must note the superb job HAL has done on the Dhruv, it was theirs to make and theirs to fix, unlike Tejas !

Will we learn ? unlikely, look at the FGFA. It is HAL's baby and they have been in the aviation business for 70 years. ADA which has still not delivered the Tejas, wants to deliver a state of the art 5th generation ++ fighter comparable to Typhoon, Rafale more than 25 years after these aircraft were designed !! and that too by 2030.

Anonymous said...

We need to compare LCA with the gripen..The performance of both should match (atleast), if not LCA exceeds Gripen considering the fact that LCA has much more carbon fibre composites than Gripen and also use the same engine. If it does not, then the design is not upto the mark. SAAB definitely has more experience in designing aircrafts, so it is quite possible that it is better.

When FA-18 was redesigned to accomodate a bigger GEF414 engine (which LCA Mk2 would use), the intakes of FA-18 were changed from Circular to Rectangular. LCA Mk2 would still use the same intakes. I only feel that now it is a bit late to change the intakes.

Moreover, all the designs of Medium Combat Aircraft as seen in the internet, have rectangular intakes!. Looks like ADA / DRDO is learning from mistakes.

Whether LCA is successful or not, or it is inducted or not, I believe there were many technologies which DRDO / ADA learnt. Good learning experience.

So here is my suggestion to DRDO and IAF.

1. Use the carbon fibre manufacturing techniques learnt through LCA, to make MRCA components and also to FGFA

2. May be some of avionic components can also be passed on to MRCA and FGFA.

3. Dassault has indicated that some components (the cold sections of the engine, i think), could be manufactured or obtained from DRDO for MRCA if rafale is selected.

From LCA, clearly DRDO has some spin offs which could be beneficial for itself. It could recover some of the money invested on LCA. Hope, this is how it works.

-sudheendra s

Anonymous said...

I guess all are seeing DRDO through a competitive private eye. Look at any big government organization the competitive edge always elude. ONGC, CIL all are example PSUs who has lot of money and resource but still fall short when it comes to competence. But mind you only a govt can fund and execute such massive projects, no matter what no private player will ever venture in to the high risk defence production unlike Boeing, EADS all of them are in business from 1920s. In the 'preferred imported' attitude of our forces has undermined any chance for redeeming our self confidence. Better is not to indulge in too much introspection, seeing the 25 years of development (i wonder if any scratch to fighter can be produced by a third world nation in less than that time) rather concentrate on future how to get an efficient fighter.
The product cost will be much less, we gain expertise in high end technology, atleast 60% materials from Indian sources etc are big big reward.
To those pessimists, even if this turns a dud (all optimist forgive me) any way we are importing MKI and MMRCA, which will help with defence. At least we will have a point fighter in Tejas, and there is nothing wrong in taking once in a while costly experiment. Since we waited this much, wait for a few more years to see whether our experiment works or not.

Anonymous said...

I like the positive attitude of the author, where the Tejas is generally doled out unfair criticism.
Things however must be seen in their totality and staying close to reality.
The Tejas though it may have incorporated a fair amount of advanced technology is not a world beater by any standards.
I will try and substantiate below:
1. The indigenous technology that we have mastered with this project is the FCS and the carbon fiber composites technologies. By this I mean that these are the only two technologies where indigenous effort is at the state of the art level. For other critical technologies we either do not have indigenous capability or not at the current state of the art. The engine needs help from Snecma, the radar needs help from IAI; DASH needs to be imported etc.
A fighter project is not about just the airframe, it encompasses technologies starting from advanced materials to avionics to propulsion and weapon systems. It is a system of systems.ADE, DRDO et all have been may be a bit too ambitious in trying to do it all and consequently have managed to shoot themselves in the foot. Alternately what could have been done (and what is being done now eventually) is to gradually indigenise the product. Build what you can, import the rest initially, and then gradually indigenise the components. This way the customer would get the product on time and the nation would get the indigenous capabilities. Far too much time has been wasted in trying to learn technologies, master them and insert the same into a time critical product.
2. Regardless of the above point let’s look at the product from a user's point of view.
Is this a design that fulfills operational requirements? What really is the operational requirement?
For a country like India with limited resources and abundant regional worries the fleet structure should be limited to 2 or 3 combat types that can cater to the whole gamut of operational tasks demanded of modern fighter planes. Air Superiority, CAS, Interception, and Air Interdiction to name the most important. This would require a platform that is multirole; with legs long enough to cater to our regional geography, with abundant growth potential for the future. The F-16 would be an excellent example of such a design which came about through the Light Fighter requirement.
The Tejas unfortunately was designed with one goal in mind; a one for one replacement of the MiG-21 point defence fighter. I must say the designers have succeeded brilliantly in achieving this goal. This however is a long way off from fulfilling our requirement.

Anonymous said...

(2)Tactically speaking; how can the LCA be employed?
It does not have the legs for Air superiority or Interdiction missions. Neither can it cater to CAS adequately with its limited load and again short endurance. (Not that the IAF has ever pursued CAS aggressively or the IA asked for it.) This leaves only the Interception role where this platform can fit in. Even here a lack of an IRST (employed by us for long), small radar (AESA or not) and small payload make its success questionable.
MiG-21s were used in Ground Controlled Intercepts and Tejas will be utilised in much the same way, maybe an air controlled intercept form AWACS. Oh sure it can strap on some bombs and fuel tanks and even a targeting pod. But can it fight its way in and out of contested airspace with the same? One alternative is to use an escort package which means putting additional aircraft in harm’s way to accomplish the same mission. The other is to wait till the threat reduces over the target area. The stealth mentioned in the article would just be limited to the a/c being hard to acquire visually rather that any evasion of radar; due to the carriage of external stores.
If that is the case would we not be better off with modernised Jaguars for the air to ground role and advanced MiG-21s possibly rebuilt with composites for point defence. Some may laugh at this but do not forget the Jag and the -21 are excellent platforms, and if the Tejas is not really bringing more capability to the table, is the cost really worth the effort?
After all we have produced/ing both the Jag and -21, and flown them for long. Any avionics that we import and put in the Tejas will just as easily fit them. Rebuilding airframes with our new found competence in composite technology might even improve the performances of these aircraft.
Another realm we have failed to explore is that of the naval LCA. Here is a role, somewhat better fit for the LCA. Our carrier "fleet" has never been geared towards power projection rather used more for sea control area denial roles. If that is the requirement then the naval LCA should prove generally adequate and can be used to protect its "airfield" with its small size proving advantageous in equipping the carrier with numbers. Here again we will see a one for one replacement of the Harriers with a minor increment in capability while losing VTOL. However if we aspire towards a blue water navy able to project power overland from the sea then things may change. An aircraft carrier is one place where the price of real estate is steep. Would we really want to have this precious real estate occupied by a fighter limited in its reach and capabilities? Its range/payload would be further reduced due to the demands of STOBAR and an airframe strengthened for carrier launches.
Don’t get me wrong as a patriot I am intensely proud of the Tejas effort; but as a realist I would suggest calling a spade a spade and not get swayed towards cynicism or jingoism. Ohh there have been endless delays but the fact that we have got this far in spite of our "system" amazes me. What I believe needs be done is to consolidate our learning and efforts from the Tejas project and come up with the AMCA designed and produced with an eye towards the future grounded in reality. Build what u can, import/involve where u need and indigenise gradually. You never know we might have a true world beater in the works.

Anonymous said...

"Performance of LCA as a fighter exceeds that of Mirage2000 even when the later is upgraded"

Really, now LCA is better then the Mirage-2000-5 MKII?

It may have more carbon fibre composites but its empty weight is still 6,560 kg when compared to that of 6,800 kg of JAS 39 Gripen and 6,411 kg for JF-17 (with alomst no composites)

Anonymous said...

LCA project has been very good test bench for ADA and HAL for learning , I still belive it can hold its place in IAF's inventory if its deployed NOW.....
well this project is stretching really long. LCA mk1 will entre active service around 2014 then we will have delays in its production. THEN ada and hal will think about mk2. Damn half of the airforce in world will be flying fifth generation fighters by that time. its time for HAL and ADA to put their resources into AMCA. put mk2 aside or develop it parallel to LCA mk1 in a manner that both enter service around same time.

Atul said...

To anon@1:56.

Super observations !

Will the Tejas be a match for Mig-21 in terms of performance ? The Mig-21 was/is an outstanding dogfighter beaten in USAF evaluations only by F-16/F-15. Can the final Tejas Mk-2 variant make this claim ? Im not too sure.

Perhaps the Tejas would make a useful CAP aircraft and take over air defence duties for vital installations ? thereby freeing the big boys to drop their toys !!

It would also make a most useful Lead In Fighter Trainer along with Hawk, thereby extending life of Hawk fleet.

And finally be used for battlefield support after theatre air superiority has been achieved.

Where does TEJAS fit in, will it offer superior performance than FGFA, MMRCA, SU-30 MKI (upg), Mig-29 (upg), Mirage 2000 (upg), Jaguar (upg), Mig-27 ?

More likely it will be a Hawk ++ with much better combat capability.Thats probably no bad thing considering that the Hawk is an outstanding design.

Anonymous said...

2014 will not be foc Hal will further delay mk1 umtil2016 and mk2 for 2022

Anonymous said...

Better Late than Never. The LCA could turn out to be a Chhupa Rustom in Future.If not the Mark I the Mark II would hopefully meet all expections. I agree with MJ on certain points.

Anonymous said...

Time for Tejas is over? so JF-17 is better plane? it takes more time to manufacture a motorcycle then a bicycle. off course both have 2 set of wheels difference is when pitted against each other. Cycle is stealthy you can carry it and hide it inside your bedroom under the bed. Motorcycle well

Anonymous said...

Half the world flies 5++ gen fighters after 2014? eerrrrr no 5++ gen fighters take out potential harmful targets for which tey are made they are expensive all the world will require support aircrafts even after 2014. to complement the 5++ gens, it is all about strength in numbers also the LCA gives a vaild option to manufacture aircrafts in prolonged war which may or may not happen. i hate to reveal this but DRDO should try to make an aircraft that is able to take on Sukhoi-27 J-10 and definitely j-17 it is enough for us it leaves Su-30, MMRCA, MCA, FAFGA and others valuble time to fly multiple sorties. IF a crapbin like jf-17 can fly why not the LCA

Samuel Diaw said...

LCA-MK2 Will be a reality and IAF Will get at least 500 of these aircrafts by 2030! Only problem, GTRE needs to really buck-up & pull their pants up by their jockstraps, and come out with an Indian engine- if not of same capability then, at least of better performance than the GE-F414-INS6 one.. They need to develop asymmetrical TVC full 360degrees vectoring nozzles for this engine too! Or else, as a backup fail-safe option, HAL MUST look at porting the "Sea-Wasp" engines of the MIG-35 with TVC, on another version of the LCA. 100% project Reliability on only a single foreign engine vendor, is a potential "suicide-kill" for this project. Lessons MUST be learned from past experiences of Marut MK2's development failures! I say, let's involve the Russians and develop a backup engine for LCA, based on the TVC "Sea-Wasp" one!