Saturday, 2 January 2016

Tejas fighter to make international debut at Bahrain



By Ajai Shukla
Business Standard, 2nd Jan 16

India’s home-grown fighter is set to debut on the international stage. The defence ministry has announced that the Tejas will perform aerobatic displays at the Bahrain International Air Show from January 21-23.

“The show will witness flying demonstration of the ‘Tejas’, the latest and state of the art Light Combat Aircraft, the ‘Four-plus’ generation and highly cost effective fighter aircraft” (sic), said the defence ministry on Friday.

This is a bold marketing move, given that the Tejas’ final operational certification is expected only by mid-2016, and just a single fighter has been delivered to the Indian Air Force (IAF). In contrast, the Pakistan Air Force (PAF) made an international splash with its F-17 Thunder fighter only after inducting the fighter into squadron service.

Top officials in the Defence R&D Organisation (DRDO) say this is a measure of their confidence in the Tejas, which has flown in several Aero India Shows in Bengaluru.

This could be a clever gambit, provided the Tejas makes a favourable impression at Bahrain. In the recent Paris Air Show in June, the PAF’s JF-17 --- a light, cheap fighter like the Tejas, developed in partnership with China --- was eyed by several air forces that cannot afford heavy fighters.

Respected defence group, IHS Janes, quoting Pakistani officials, reported that an unnamed air force had already signed a contract for the JF-17, and that discussions were under way with 11 other air forces, including Argentina.

However, the Tejas is at a disadvantage vis-à-vis the JF-17, which the PAF has aggressively supported and marketed to bring down costs by building more aircraft. The PAF aims at inducting some 250 JF-17s, with exports orders adding to that number.

In a telling contrast, the IAF has supported the Tejas reluctantly, agreeing to accept 100 improved Tejas only after the defence minister put the squeeze last year on import-happy air marshals.

There will be high stakes at Bahrain for the IAF, DRDO and the Tejas’ manufacturer, Hindustan Aeronautics Ltd (HAL). If the two Tejas fighters going to Bahrain are hamstrung by maintenance glitches, or their aerobatics performance is unimpressive, that would seriously jeopardise prospects for future exports.

“A fighter participating in an international air show is scrutinised like a Miss Universe contestant. Every mole of the Tejas will be scrutinised in Bahrain”, warns Pushpindar Singh, aerospace expert and editor of Vayu magazine.

Singh also wonders why Bahrain has been chosen for the Tejas’ debut. “Last month’s Dubai Air Show was the world’s third biggest air show after Farnborough (in UK) and Paris (in France). Even next month’s Singapore Air Show would provide a bigger audience,” he says.

The Tejas is regarded as technologically superior to the JF-17, and only somewhat more expensive. Built largely of light composite materials, the Tejas carries more fuel and weapons. A fourth-generation fighter, it has an “unstable design” that makes it more manoeuvrable than the JF-17, which has a “relaxed stability” design.

Aerospace experts say the JF-17 is basically a heavily re-engineered MiG-type fighter. In contrast, the Tejas represents a technology leap, with its quadruplex, fly-by-wire system that stabilises it in flight.

The participating Tejas fighters will fly in mid-January from Bengaluru, via Jamnagar and Muscat, to the Sakhir Air Base in Bahrain where the show will be held.

The defence ministry has also announced that the IAF’s Sarang helicopter aerobatics team, which has impressed audiences in Berlin and Farnborough, will perform at Bahrain. 

17 comments:

Anonymous said...

There has been no dearth of uncharitable and indeed mischievous comments on the LCA both within and without the Service mostly by ill informed DRDO baiters who basically cannot get a good night's sleep unless they have thrown a few punches at any of India's indigenous defence efforts. Let us hope the LCA performs creditably in the airshow and makes a good impression abroad even is it could not fully get the backing of our own countrymen.

Anonymous said...

Taking it so far fir an air show is great. We must give credit to current political leadership for having convinced the Air Force Top brass.
Now IAF should put all efforts to ensure Tejas is continuously improved. They need to learn from life cycle of MiG-21/F18/F16 not MoG-27 or Marut.

Tako Nada said...

Good going Tejas. If we support Tejas, it will help to build a military aeronautical supply chain and by the time AMCA is ready we have robust aeronautical industrial supply chain.

Anonymous said...

Love you Ajai. I asked for an update just yesterday and here I have it.

Anonymous said...

I strongly believe that they should get the production line ready with atleast 16 planes per year by mid 2017 to be bumped up to 32 planes per year by late 2018. I feel India needs atleast 400 lca's and the improvements must be implimented at earliest. They should work some midnight oil to do that.
1. Air intakes have to be large let it be like Grippen NG and there should be no compromise in that , having secondary inlets is not the same thing the performance would improve.
2. The radar has to be a large AESA radar like EL 2052 with a graphite radome with a great range and mated with a very good long range missile as tejas has a good chance of being small made of composites and mated with good radar would help it kill the targets well beyond the visual range. It has no chance against the newer F16 in dog fight and so all engagements be BVR and good AWACS support is nescessary with good command and control support and in flight refuellers are needed.the power of the EL 2052 has to be increased.the cooling issues sorted out.
3. The sensor integration is mandatory if they achieve , it has to be done as all modern fighters have that let it be Rafale , f 35 or typhoon.
Put a team in place that did Darin upgrades and give them a fixed timeline to do that.
4. Servicibility has to be easy and quick , make modifications so that it can be made ready easily in 15 minutes so that next sortie with next pilot can happen as it should make atleast 10 sorties per day and if they achieve that it would be like one thousand planes effectively and that increases he punch of the airforce to have dominance.
5. The bomb choices have to increase so that the planes can be armed for selected role quickly and that would give flexibility.
6. Produce first 16 planes as single and two seater trainers and quickly install GE 414 engine so that the performance and range can be further increased in the next block of planes.
7. Try to get 414 ÉPÉ engines so that the extra fuel be carried on conformal fuel tanks to increase the range and payload and then it can defeat any version of F 16 if it is locked in a dogfight.
8. The long range Astra mk2 has to be fully devloped and integrated so that it can lock on to target at a distance of more than 100 miles as tejas being small , made of composites , with a very good jammer cannot be locked down by anything flying at 100 Kms.
9. It would be lot easier to devlop the next version of the LCA with two engines to have internal weapons bay and would have considerable increase in range , it would lot easier to do that then to devlop AMCA and that makes buying of Rafale totally irrelevant and all the shortcomings of the single engined version and Air Force wants in Rafale can be addressed.
10. Devlop of a full supply line of SU 30 components and take consultancy from GE for bearing for engines of the SU as well as mig 29 so that servicibility and availability is improved that itself increases 80- 100 planes.

These are 10 commandments and I hope they would adopt after nov 2016 as the present leadership cannot think anything beyond Rafale which is extremely expensive to buy. , maintain and upgrade. 126 Rafale if not bought can in the same money upgrade all its planes and have 400 Tejas with two engine version devloped and AMCA also devloped so that PAFKA orders can be reduced as AMCA would also be ready and industry would have been matured enough to upgrade all these planes every 3-4 years.

TIMBAKTOO

Anonymous said...

Nothing to worry about LCA going for an Air Show in Bahrain it has participated in India in air shows without much issues it is still under development India's alone need is for 300+ fighters and it is not some product made by some other country and India assembling it and branding it as made by India. Does the JF-17 carry any major components from Pakistan nope. Pakistan's only contribution was to let the Chinese study the F-16 Block 30/35 secretly (it's known thing). Let it go lets see how the others react after all there was no other option available for JF-17 lets see how it performs in displays and what feedback is received. Fun Part will be when both aircrafts are displayed exactly opposite each other and air displays follow each other.

Anonymous said...

For an aircraft that has been marred by numerous delays, HAL still hopes that Tejas will find buyers in the international market. Now THAT is the power of positive thinking !

With the less than enviable track record of HAL (remember 4 out of the seven ALHs have crashed in Ecuador with the Ecuador govt cancelling the order for the rest, and the IAF recently grounded the ALH fleet), no sane Air force in the world would like to burn their fingers with HAL. HAL is at best a good assembly line and no innovation whatsoever comes from them. ADA is only marginally better, inventing technologies that take years to conceptualise, perfect and put into production (by which time they are near obsolete). Why, for Tejas itself, CAG had found 53 glaring omissions, and I quote.............."LCA Mark-I, which achieved Initial Operational Clearance (December, 2013) has significant shortfalls (53 permanent waivers/concessions" in meeting ASR (Air Staff Requirements) as a result of which it will have reduced operational capabilities and reduced survivability, thereby limiting its operational employability when inducted into IAF squadrons,"

http://www.deccanherald.com/content/476403/tejas-mark-fails-meet-iaf.html


Quoting your own article in Business Standard .............."CAG also finds the LCA's claimed indigenisation exaggerated. While the Aeronautical Development Agency (ADA), which oversees the LCA project, has estimated indigenous content to be 61 per cent, CAG says it "actually worked out to about 35 per cent" as of January 2015."

Add to this the poor reliability of existing Dhruv in Ecuador and one doesn't exactly see HAL's order book really taking any significant orders.

The govt's decision to not allow the private sector to Make in India in defence is puzzling. It sure does help the inefficient and money guzzling nexus of Defence PSUs like BEL/ BDL/ HAL, Ordnance factories and DRDO continue to rule the roost, because of which the Indian Defence Forces are saddled with weaponry and defence technology of Cold War era, with pathetic rifles, planes and night vision devices to name just a few. Heck, even terrorists which are regularly killed by our brave jawans (despite fighting with obsolete equipment) carry better gear (In the Pathankot attack , the terrorists carried US made Night Vision Devices !)

ashok said...

TRUST THE PILOTS LIKE CMDE MALONKAR AND SUPPORT TEAMS . THE LCA WILL BE THE SHOW STOPPER .TIME TO STOP HARPING ON THE DEFECIENCIES AND LOOK AT THE POTENTIAL . IN A LO-LO-LO CONFIGURATION WITH A COMBAT RANGE OF 300 KMS AND HI-LO-HI 800KMS THE LCA COVERS PAKISTANI TARGETS ,AIRFIELDS AND TIBETAN TARGETS WITHIN CHINA UPTO 650KMS ADEQUATELY .FOR 3000 REPLACEMENT MIGS , MIRAGES OF THE ARAB AFRICAN LATIN AMERICAN , SOUTH ASIAN FORCES THE LCA WILL BE GOOD REPLACEMENT AT AN ATTRACTIVE PRICE WITH DIFFERENT POSSIBLE EQUIPMENT CONFIGURATIONS AND WEAPONS

ashok said...

TRUST THE PILOTS LIKE CMDE MALONKAR AND SUPPORT TEAMS . THE LCA WILL BE THE SHOW STOPPER .TIME TO STOP HARPING ON THE DEFICIENCIES AND LOOK AT THE POTENTIAL . IN A LO-LO-LO CONFIGURATION WITH A COMBAT RANGE OF 300 KMS AND HI-LO-HI 800KMS THE LCA COVERS PAKISTANI TARGETS ,AIRFIELDS AND TIBETAN TARGETS WITHIN CHINA UPTO 650KMS ADEQUATELY .FOR 3000 REPLACEMENT MIGS , MIRAGES OF THE ARAB AFRICAN LATIN AMERICAN , SOUTH ASIAN FORCES THE LCA WILL BE GOOD REPLACEMENT AT AN ATTRACTIVE PRICE WITH DIFFERENT POSSIBLE EQUIPMENT CONFIGURATIONS AND WEAPONS

Abhiman said...

This is a golden opportunity for Tejas to bag export orders. Its clearly much superior to the JF-17 (which has also crashed during service). It also has a very good safety record, and is much more customizable.

The Defence ministry has wrung meaningful orders from the IAF too. This point can be used by the marketing team to pitch the Tejas to the Air Forces of many nations.

The main selling points of the Tejas are:

1) Its a 4+ gen fighter jet, that is as advanced as the F-16 Block 52 and the Gripen NG.

2) Despite being 4+ gen, its the cheapest fighter jet of its class anywhere in the world. Its cost of operations is also among the lowest.

3) It can seamlessly replace old Cold-war era fighters, interceptors and bombers like MiGs (21 to 29), F-16s, Mirages and Jaguars.

4) Its very customizable and adaptable, which enables a very long life.

Anonymous said...

You have put a pic of Rafale in your tweet & article in business standard !

gurinder said...

good move.Nothing like a little international scrutiny and publicity to improve the image of our nascent aerospace industry.Lets not be afraid of failure. Its a good product and shall do well.

Unknown said...

Ajai - Saw you on TV last night. I agree that there seems to be turf war going on. I fail to understand why Delhi waited for hours and then flew NSG into Pathankot AFS. If this was to entrap the terrorists, then using a strategic AFB as a bait is poor thinking.

Instead Punjab police, local Army / BSF / CRPF and other security forces should have fanned out to each road and junction of the district. Each highway should have got barricades with stop/search for all vehicles all along major routes. This AFS is within 50 Km of the IB, and the whole area is teeming with Army units and defences incase the Pak Army ever comes along. There were a total of 300 people for a area of 2000 acres? 120 NSG and 2 columns? Why not a 500 or even a 1000 men?

Why indeed were the Army units not deployed?

26/11 - No intelligence - poor action.
01/16 - Good intelligence - poor action.

Abhiman said...

One more thing about the JF-17:

1) It has no known IoC or FoC type of clearance either from its manufacturer, Chengdu, or from PAF. It was "inducted" after just ~4 years of flight tests.

2) It crashed once during service.

3) There are no known improvements to it since its first tranche. Many years back, there was a lot of talk about having European avionics in the next tranche/batch. That never happened.

4) Arguably its biggest negative is its partial FBW in the pitch axis only. The rest of the axes rely on a primitive type of reactionary control system (not entirely hydraulic, though). Its a "stable" design, unlike most fighters that have unstable designs.

5) Another negative is the little known use of composites. Most of the airframe is built of heavy aluminum alloys.

6) Its biggest positive is the so-called DSI intakes. Its supposedly an F-35 style intake that feeds air very efficiently to the engine at all angles. This supposedly helps in generating high thrust.

Anonymous said...

Aha! All the best to the team behind Tejas.

And Ajai sir, we'll wait for your commentary on Tejas' performance in the air show at Bahrain

- Thanks,
Tanuj, Noida

Anonymous said...

HAL LCA Tejas is a 4th Generation Multi role fighter jet.
Its no kanda nor batata nor any mooli.

Mr.Shukla, request you to stop using "home grown" and use "Indigenous" to refer to the LCA.


I'd prefer 'HAL LCA Tejas, India's fighter Jet'.
Theres really no need to use "indigenous" all the time. Everyone knows, LCA Tejas *is* Indian !

Anonymous said...

I would try best to. Integrate GE 414 IN5S6 engine at earliest so that next year IAF would have it in next block of planes with EL 2052 radar I would widen the the air intakes and have divert less supersonic inlets and that with aerodynamic improvements and opening up of flight envelope can beat F16 in dog fight as I saw the recent videos and they were very impressive. Just fully devlop the plane and go for twin engined version so that range and payload requirements of Rafale can be achieved. Then why they need such an expensive plane like Rafale.

TIMBAKTOO