QUORA DIARIES: LCA, WERE THE TWO DECADES WORTH IT?

IAF is at least of its air squadron power ever, this answer shall also look into this point if this situation was sudden or it was predictable.

HAL tejas a failure or Success?

Well its time to find out…

Content:

  1. History of developement: HAL Marut, MCA(Most of us won’t have even heard of it), LCA-tejas
  2. Technologies developed: Fly-by wire, engine, radar, aerodynamics, avionics
  3. contribution to the industry/ country .
  4. comparison of budgets with other fighter jets?

Let’s start with:

  • HISTORY:
    • HAL MARUT:

  • The first supersonic fighter jets in Asia.
    • Served efficiently from 1960–1991 without any severe problems.
      • Also IAF was enjoying aerial supremacy in the region with the newly developed and bought 1200 Mig-21, during this time the PLAAF was not as strong as IAF. But Chinese realised “SOMETHING” that we (excluding navy) didn’t and are still denying from realising it.
      • It was first fighter jet developed, designed and manufactured in India.
      • It got some engine problems, GTRE did developed engine for it, it worked with complete efficiency but was incompatible with aircraft. Had there been foresightedness in airforce, governement and beuraucracy a little more funds would have given us a new engine for Marut. But Marut died a slow death given by beuraucracy, poor R&D funding(which still is poor), and lack of foresightedness.
    • HAL MCA(Medium Combat Aircraft): Say Hello to this Guy!!

  • It was the twin engined, vertical stabilizer less, 360 Thrust vectoring nozzle aircraft a.k.a twin engined MCA(big brother of MCA)
  • It was proposed in early 2000s.
  • But We did the same mistake again, IAF showed little interest in the program and the plan was shelved back in 2000s and the IAF insisted on the LCA and insisted for 126 MCA from foreign and hence started the saga of 126 MMRCA with tender being issued in 2001. The deal was signed for just 36 in 2016. We wasted 16 years again, had there been foresightedness and less corruption in the system , with proper absorption of public and private industry, this thing would have been already into the sky.
  • But, it never saw the daylight and remained a proposal.
  • HAL TEJAS:

  • The so called 1980 is just a media propaganda, it was the year IAF mentioned this matter, 1984 ADA was formed and 1990 finally funds were released so actual commencement was 1990 and not alleged 1980.
  • At last there was some ray of hope though tarnished by 1999 nuclear test embargos, Tejas took to the sky in 2001.
  • LCA was named tejas by then PM.Shri Atal Bihari Bajpayee. The programme went well till 2004, it slowed down after 2004 due to slack nature of then government, corruption throughout the reign rocked the entire country during this period, Let alone tejas it was just a small Fighter jet under developement.
  • 2014 BJP governement came back again with absolute majority and Defense Minister being Manohar parrikar, clearly stating that Tejas is his dream project.
  • Tejas programme in this two year period i.e 2014–16 saw a faster speed of developement with 123 strong tejas being ordered by DAC and in early 2017 it’s FOC started with successfull firing of Derby guided missile in guided missile mode.
  • TECHNOLOGIES DEVELOPED:
    • Airframe and Aerodynamics(including stealth):
      • The exact RCS of tejas is unknown. But it is said that it is “1/3 of mirage”, considerably low as compared to other 4th generation aircrafts because of
      • High usage of carbon composites.

  • Being small in size adds to the lowering the RCS.
  • Y-shape inlets that reduces the heat signature of the engine.

  • .Use of RAM(Radar Absorbent material) paints
  • .Addition of AESA radar in mk1a and mk2 will ensure that tejas locks on to the target before target sees it which adds to the LO feature.
  • Radar waves normally enter the cockpit reflects of objects & possibly return to the radar and even the HMD of pilot itself contributes to RCS. To avoid this Tejas canopy is coated with a thin film transparent conductor of Indium Tin Oxide. The coating is thin enough that it has no adverse effect on pilot vision and can reflect the radar waves away from the radar antenna.
  • quadraplex digital fly-by-wire control system.
  • ENGINE:

A little bit history about the kaveri engine:

  1. The GTRE GTX-35VS Kaveri is a turbofan project developed by the (GTRE), a lab under the DRDO
  2. T the Kaveri was originally intended to power production models of the Tejas LCA fighter.
  3. This was approx 202 mn $ project.
  4. Later on the project was divided into two category: K9 and K 10
    1. K9: Will be completely indigenous with only foreign consultation and certification.
    2. K10: Will be a joint venture with a foreign partner.
  5. Problems that occured:
    • Kaveri engine in its present form uses directionally solidified blade technology which is rather an old tech and it couldn’t tolerate the high temperature in its combustion chamber called “Kabini”. The solution was “single crystal blades”
    • The thrust generated was nearly 65 to 70% of what was needed.
    • Performance decay at high altitude.
    • A peculiar noise when in after burning mode..

Here comes the MMRCA deal which many think was a bad decision by the current leadership as it just bought 36 rafales. But if we look closely to the offset, it was boon to us as under the offset:

  • Snecma which manufacture the Rafales M-88 core agreed to help and certify the engine in 18 months.
  • DRDO has been given a virtual carte blanche to channelise offsets from the Indian Rafale deal to resurrect the Kaveri.Snecma, a partner in the Rafale programme, builds the Rafale’s twin M88 turbofan engines. Under the terms of the partnership , Snecma is working to modify, certify and integrate the Kaveri on a Light Combat Aircraft airframe before 2020.
  • A later phase in the partnership will involve modifications on the Kaveri for a twin configuration on India’s AMCA fifth generation fighter concept and an altered non-reheat version for the Ghatak UCAV.
  • According to DRDO chief the kaveri engine will be ready by next aero india.
  • Another good new is that altitude test and flying test bed trials have been completed. Official statement of MoD in Parliament” In a written reply to the Lok Sabha in December 2016, Minister of State for Defence Subhash Bhamre had called the effort of the GTRE in developing the engine as “an attempt to mastering one of the most complex technologies”. The minister said the altitude test and flying test bed trials for the engine had been completed and other developmental problems were being addressed to make the engine flight-worthy through in-house efforts as well with assistance from abroad”.
  • The engine will be first used on Tejas PV-1.Other uses will be
    • Ghatak UCAV(Dry variant or w/o afterburner)

  • AMCA

  • Tejas Mk2

AVIONICS:

  • Indigenous HUD.

  • EW suite for Tejas is under developement for LCA but since it is small it has to be compact other than that Tusker EW suite is the bigger derivative of the suite Mayavi EW for LCA and is used for Mig-29, jaguar and Su-30. Samyukta is also another EW suite that has used the experience from past developement of Mayavi and tusker EW.

  • Early version of tejas (PVs) had analog display now they fly on Digital display designed by DARE(DRDO).

  • Also DARE has developed the litening targetting pod for effective targetting of air version of brahmos.
  • It’s HMD is ELBIT designed, but its friend and foe detection is designed by DRDO.
  • UTTAM AESA (Further updates:Soikot Banerjee’s answer to Is India developing/working on AESA radars?)radar has given rise to many other forms of AESA radar such as that used on swordfish radar, AEW&C, recently successfully launched QRSAM.

CONTRIBUTION TO COUNTRY/INDUSTRY:

  1. Private sector giants especially TATA SED and L&T have gained a lot of experience in electronics and manufacturing respectively.
  2. It has created a chain of MSMEs.
  3. Almost entire fuselage which includes wings, center of fuselage is made by private companies and HAL is only a integrator.

AMOUNT OF RESOURCE:

  1. Tejas is the cheapest 4.5 gen aircraft programme ever with $1 bn spent on programme, whereas Gripen is 14 bn$ programme and F-16 even more.
  2. Tejas has never ever faced an accident whereas its competitor Grippen has faced Two accidents.

Given the amount of experience by spending the least amount of money compared to any fighter jet programme as shown by above facts and two failed attempts to develope or continue to develope a fighter jets, TEJAS LCA IS A SUCCESS.

The “SOMETHING” that i mentioned earlier is the thing that complete indegenisation is the only way you can survive for long and you can see how strong and thriving the chinese aerospace industry is now(you can abuse me as traitor, porkistani and whatever you may like).

But it’s time to accept that only R&D can give us what we call as self reliance and not so called ToT that we keep asking from other nations.

No nation will give critical technologies that have made them pioneers of their respective field. By giving critical tech to another company, no parent company in sane mind would create their own competitor. But w/o critical tech we can’t modify the weapon platforms according to needs as all IPR are reserved with the parent company, forget about creating a new one.

Hence LCA TEJAS is a success and the present squadron crisis was predictable and also preventable had there been foresightedness in IAF, beuraucracy to develope complete R&D infrastructure by consuming potential of both private and public sector also academic institutions to the fullest.

n.

 

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