LCA Tejas is far superior than Mirage-2000 and the Chinese JF-17
After building light combat aircraft (LCA) – Tejas – India’s target is to build fifth generation fighter aircraft (FGFA) indigenously. This is what H Siddesha, project director and technology director of LCA at the Aeronautical Development Agency of Ministry of Defense said here on Friday.
FGFA, which is under development, is very much a future requirement for the Indian Air Force (IAF) upgrade programme. “It should take flight in 2028,” he said.
Talking about Tejas, which has been inducted in the IAF, he said, IAF has placed an order of 123 Tejas Mark 1. “Every year, 16 Tejas aircrafts will be built on two assembly lines. By 2024, all the aircrafts will be inducted in the IAF whereas Tejas Mark 2 version will be ready by 2021,” he said, adding that Tejas is superior than France’s Mirage and China’s JF-17 fighter jets.
“So far, Tejas has taken 4,000 flights and in none of them it has met with even a minor accident which is a record in itself.
The technical staff can replace engine of Tejas within 45 minutes and the cockpit and flight control system are world class,” he said, adding that although some countries have evinced interest in procuring Tejas from India, the government is yet to take the decision on whether it should be exported.
Ravi Gupta, a former scientist with DRDO says that there is a generation gap between Tejas and JF-17. “JF-17 is an upgraded version of MiG-21, developed by China for Pakistan. Tejas is far far superior in terms of avionics and manoeuvrability. Tejas makes use of composite materials, while JF-17 is all metal. Tejas also boasts of a glass cockpit where data is available to the pilot in real-time digital format,” Gupta tells FE Online.
Says Colonel KV Kuber, Independent Consultant Defence and Aerospace, “The induction of Tejas is a proud moment for India and IAF. It is also a big leg up for the entire supply chain that has been established around Tejas. Increasingly Indian defence players will compete to be a part of the Tejas supply chain.” “As far as the JF-17 is concerned, there is no comparison of Tejas with that Chinese aircraft. Tejas is in a class of its own,” he said.
Tejas shares in common feautures with the French Mirage is that both are delta winged single engined multirole aircrafts. Nothing more or nothing less than that.
Our engineers at ADA have studied the design of Mirage and made an aircraft exactly the way our pilots wanted it to be with all the 21st century available expertise.
As a result, the Tejas is a far more technologically superior aircraft. Though it’s not combat proven like the Mirage since it is in its early service days, it is no less of an aircraft than the French contemporary.
The Tejas has been designed as a multi-role fighter. It can engage enemy aircraft with the R-73 short-range air-to-air missile (SRAAM); by FOC next year, more potent air-to-air missiles, probably the Israeli Derby and Python, would be integrated. Against ground targets, the Tejas carries conventional and laser-guided bombs. Next year, it will have an integral 23 millimetre Gasha cannon.
Recently Tejas successfully fired the Beyond Visual Range Air-to-Air Missile (BVRAAM) missile Derby in radar mode.
The Derby BVRAAM missile, which enables the aircraft strike aerial targets, has a defined operational range of over 50 kilometres. The missile which is capable of attaining speeds up to Mach 4 is guided by advanced and sleek active radar. Derby has been in operation with the Indian Air Force (IAF) and the Indian Navy for well over a decade.
Israel based Rafael Advanced Defense Systems, the manufacturer of Derby, is offering India I Derby-ER, which is an extended range version of the current missile. Derby-ER, which was revealed during Aero India-2015, will be capable of striking aerial targets as far as a 100 KMS away with pin point accuracy. The missile is being actively considered by India to arm the under development Tejas Mark-1A aircraft.
The Tejas’ avionics – radar, laser and inertial navigation system – enhances the accuracy of these weapons. Its highly rated Elta EL/M-2032 multi-mode radar provides multi-role capability, allowing the pilot to fire air-to-air missiles at enemy aircraft; and also bomb ground targets with a highly accurate navigation-attack system. The pilot operates his weapons through a head-up display (HUD), or through a helmet-mounted sighting system (HMSS) by merely looking at a target. Experienced fighter pilots say the Tejas is the IAF’s most “pilot friendly” fighter.
Although it is one of the world’s lightest fighters, the Tejas’ weapons load of 3,500 kg compares well with most IAF fighters, including the Mirage-2000, Jaguar, upgraded MiG-27 and the MiG-21. Depending on the mission – strike, photoreconnaissance, or air defence – its eight hard points can carry missiles, bombs, fuel drop tanks or a targeting pod. It can bomb targets and fire missiles as accurately as the Sukhoi-30MKI. The latter scores mainly in its longer range and bigger weapons load, both stemming from its much larger size.
The Tejas’ capability is best known to the air force and navy test pilots in the National Flight Test Centre, who have tested it in 2,400 flights. They claim it may be more versatile than the MiG-29 (primarily built for air-to-air combat); the MiG-27 and the Jaguar (both oriented to ground strike); and all variants of the MiG-21, including the multi-role BISON.
The Tejas’ likely adversary, the Pakistan Air Force’s F-16 fighter, has a slightly larger flight envelope, but the Tejas’ superior avionics give it a combat edge over the PAF’s older F-16A/Bs (currently being upgraded in Turkey); and superior to their new JF-17 Thunder light fighter, co-developed with China. Only the PAF’s 18 new F-16C/D Block 52 fighters, flying since 2010-11 from Jacobabad, may be a match for the Tejas.
LCA TEJAS VS JF-17
In terms of weapons, the LCA tejas has 8 hardpoints where the missiles and other weapon systems can be mounted, while the JF-17 thunder has 7 hardpoints. However, the LCA Tejas can carry a much larger variety of Western, Russian, Israeli and Indian weapon systems, as compared to the JF-17 which can handle a limited variety of Chinese and American weapons.
LCA Tejas is designed to carry air-to-air, air-to-surface, precision guided and standoff weaponry. Tejas can carry long-range beyond visual range weapons. According to ADA, Tejas can fire “highly agile high off-boresight missiles” to tackle any close combat threat.
According to PAC, JF-17 is capable of carrying weapons such as beyond visual range active missiles, highly agile Imaging infrared short range missiles, air-to-sea missiles, anti-radiation missiles, laser guided weapons, runway penetration bombs, general purpose bombs, training bombs and 23 mm double barrel gun.
One of the most important parameters in modern aerial warfare is avionics. The LCA has better avionics with a hybrid Multi Mode Radar (MMR) developed with Israel. The plane also has an indigenous electronic warfare suite known as Mayavi (illusionist). The targeting pod on the LCA Tejas is also the superior Litening unit, as compared to the FLIR used on the JF-17.
Going forward, even the JF-17 will get a more modern suite of electronics and other improvements when it gets upgraded to the Block 2 variant. However, roughly by that time, HAL would also have upgraded the Tejas to its Mark-2 version, which would have a significant lead over the JF-17 in almost all parameters.
Defence and aviation experts says saveral times that any comparison between the two aircraft is not right.
Ravi Gupta, a former scientist with DRDO says that there is a generation gap between HAL LCA Tejas and pakistan JF-17. “JF-17 thunder is an upgraded version of MiG-21, developed by China for Pakistan. Tejas makes use of composite materials, while JF-17 is all metal. Tejas is far far superior in terms of avionics and manoeuvrability. HAL Tejas also boasts of a glass cockpit where data is available to the pilot in real-time digital format,”
“The induction of LCA Tejas is a proud moment for India and Indian airforce .Increasingly Indian defence players will compete to be a part of the Tejas supply chain. It is also a big leg up for the entire supply chain that has been established around HALTejas. ” “As far as the JF-17 is concerned, there is no comparison of Tejas with that Chinese aircraft. Tejas is in a class of its own,” Says Colonel KV Kuber, Independent Consultant Defence and Aerospace