Monday, June 10, 2013

Another Milestone Missed, Panic Button Pushed On Tejas

TEJAS LSP-2 AT IOC-1 CEREMONY / PHOTO BY SHIV AROOR
There's been a typical but welcome flurry of dates and excitement about the Light Combat Aircraft, which usually happens when there's a change of guard at the DRDO. First, Defence Minister AK Antony on May 29 declared that certification of the platform needed to speeded up so that it was delivered to the Indian Air Force, fully cleared, by the end of next year. Then, with the change of guard at the DRDO, there was talk of moving up the IOC-2 deadline to September-October this year. I hate to be a stick in the mud, believe me, but I think we can all be pretty clear that 30 years have proven how futile it is talking dates and deadlines when it comes to the Tejas. Instead of getting swept away by illusory milestones, it's important to quietly finish the job and deliver. It stopped being a joke over a decade ago. Now, here's a quick round-up of the latest developments:
  • As on June 9, the Tejas programme has logged 2193 flights, which includes six flights by the latest airframe, the LSP-8 that flew first in March this year.
  • On May 29, Defence Minister A.K. Antony declared that the Tejas needed to be available to the Indian Air Force by the end of next year at all costs. Sources say that Antony doesn't want any more requests for project extension on the programme and wants final operational clearance by November-December 2014 "no matter what".
  • With IOC-1 achieved in January 2011, the programme has struggled and floundered for over two years, and will be looking to complete IOC-2 only by November-December this year, as against an official target of June. (The DRDO's new chief Avinash Chander, sources say, has appointed a special unofficial board of his own appointees who will supervise all aspects of work on the Tejas and report to him every 48 hours on progress. Five of these officials will be based out of Bangalore.)
  • Apart from a host of test parameters -- at least 1,250 test points, according to the latest progress review report -- that need to be met, the Tejas needs a new radome (reported first on Livefist), since the current one has deficient electromagnetic performance, isn't fully lightning protected and allows a measure of rainwater ingress, causing the Israeli multimode radar to go glitchy.
  • The parameters that need clearance for IOC-2 include wake penetration, lightning clearance, all-weather clearance among a host of others. My sources indicate to me that all-weather clearance has been achieved, not the other two.
  • Parameters such as handling/speed at low altitudes and sustained turn rate have been sorted out to the satisfaction of the IAF as far as the Mk.1 airframe is concerned.
  • The bridge between IOC-2 and FOC will include the following: integration of beyond visual range weapons, gun, rockets, guided and unguided bombs, and the further expansion of its flight envelope to -3.5 to 8G (-2 to 6G for IOC-2) and 24-degrees angle of attack (22 for IOC-2).
The LCA Navy, as I've reported here before, is on the drawing board for a re-designed landing gear that's seeing a deep degree of involvement by EADS. It's only had four flights, the last one in July last year. More on that soon.

16 comments :

sents said...

So we can expect LCA Tejas to get FOC by December 2014. Even now it IAF has a lot of requirement for LCA Tejas. Except SU30MKI everything needs to be replaced in IAF. RAFALE still didn't find its way, PAK-FA getting delayed.
LCA Tejas will still prove its worthy, if there are no further delays. Also what happened to
Arjun MK2 MBT SIr? ni update for along time?

Anonymous said...

Israeli multimode radar?

Correction please: It is MMR with Elta processor

Anonymous said...

We keep hearing about IOC1,IOC2 &FOC. Can someone, in the know, outline what exactly is needed for each of them, like a check list?
I'm completely baffled as to why this is taking long, as India do manufacture, under licence, fighter aircraft and surely the needed technology should be available in the country!!!

Rahul said...

I don't know what unguided and guided bomb -- as you say: due for integration at FOC -- you are talking about when world saw Tejas dropping LGB in iron fist video and unguided 500 Kg bomb in following video...

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UoDJWD9M7DA

Anonymous said...

One thing for tejas it hasn't crashed till date by expert trainee pilots. This is really a positive development.

Abhiman said...

Some pertinent questions to the IAF:

1) Are the radomes of the MiG fighters in the IAF completely free from electromagnetic interferences ? Are they also water-tight ?

2) Do all MiGs perfectly pass all the wake penetration challenges thrown at them ? Does any MiG emerge fully unscathed after being subjected to a wake flow ?

3) Do the "flying-coffins", i.e the MiG-21s meet EACH & EVERY minutest requirement that the IAF demands of a fighter jet of its size ?

If the answers to any one of the above questions is NO, then the IAF is doing a grave injustice to the to national security as well as to the Tejas.

The history of HF-24 Marut is in danger of repeating, if the IAF does not mend its ways.

Anonymous said...

Look at the American F-35 program, that too has had more than it's share of issues...in fact it has been one of the biggest money pits in history for the US military. This for a country that is #1 in defence. We have nothing in comparison. Things like this will take time. Mistakes upon mistakes will happen. That is how expertees are built up. It is better to accept that the LCA program actually began in the mid-late-90's since that is when it was properly funded. You are misinforming people by saying it is 30 years old. Don't just create sensational headline to sell more magazines/newspapers.

Anonymous said...

Not the Emergecy... stop... button... sigh...

Anonymous said...

what would... the case... was given... another extension...

Im lucky said...

I am supporting Avinash chander, I is shame to developers of LCA, that they take such a long time making such a plane. what would they do if they are asked to make any state of the art plane competing Russian or western plane like su-30 or mig 35 or eurofighter typhoon or F/A 18....?. all govt employers are good to take of themselvs but not about the task they have been assigned to.

Anonymous said...

The US president changes but their Pak policy never changes. Similarly the the DRDO chief changes but the tejas fate never changes.

Anonymous said...

Amazing info shiv thanks keep it going....

Somewhat Positive Indian said...

i guess the last point in this post needs some editing....it should be IOC-1 in the brackets...correct me if m wrong

Rahul said...

Shiv, one will have to understand why Anthony is now setting deadlines for ADA/HAL to deliver Tejas....Because it is clear as broad daylight that he will not be in office post April 2014 and so will Congress....DRDO/HAL knows that and will play safe...Once NDA comes to power, they will ask Modi to set the deadline to December 2024.....

How I wish Anthony had set those deadlines in the last 9 years of UPA and not now....

Anonymous said...

hav any Air Marshal... rushed to fly in Tejas... when it got... IOC1... bcuz... it budget hasn't... got kitty purse... to fill Air Marshal's pockets...

LCAfan said...

believe me I just love this bird (LCA), first heard about this when I was a kid and have followed its development since. Now, in my middle ages I think we are doing a lot of injustice to this project, first someone or some people are there in our country who dont want the LCA (I dont call this Tejas, you want your fighters to be stealthy and not full of radiance) to be anywhere near successful they want to make moolah out of foreign aircraft deals. Second the Americans have always tried secretly that LCA is never a grand success...last i read, the LCA's tricycle landing gears have to be cooled on every landing right on the tarmac before being towed to its hangers (dont know how true this is)