With Economic slowdown, IAF banking on Medium Weight Fighter (MWF) for fleet revival
The Aeronautical Development Agency and the Indian Air Force (IAF) have secretly teamed up to design and development which will not only stop the fast slid of the Squadron level of the fighter fleet of the IAF but also push modernization of the entire fleet with great export potential said an IAF officer associated with the program. MWF has been designed as per the requirement of the IAF and will be a technological leap from LCA-Tejas Mk1/A towards AMCA which is the 5th generation fighter jet program to go active soon.
Tejas Mk2 also known as Medium Weight Fighter (MWF) looks very much similar to Tejas Mk1. However the main differences are prolonged fuselage. The overall length of Tejas Mk2 is 14.7 meter from increased from 13.2 meter in Tejas Mk1. While studying the aerodynamics and its constrains in Tejas Mk1, it was observed that it was unable to comply to Area ruling because of short length. So it was decided to take care of this concern of Tejas Mk1 by increasing the length. Other aerodynamic issues such as elevating canopy, redesigning pylon, putting short range missile on wing tip etc is freezed in Mk2 design. All this will reduce aerodynamic drag and will improve transonic acceleration by a very good margin.
Mark-2 MWF will continue to have the legacy LCA-Tejas Mk1 and Mk1A design elements which will be powered by single F414-GE-INS6 engine supplied by General Electric which has already started to arrive in India from 2017 on wards.MWF will exceed the performance of Upgraded Mirage-2000 when Inducted into air force but actually will replace Mig-29 first. MWF will also be replacing Jaguar fighter-Bomber which are due to be retired from service from 2034 on wards
Development of MWF was convinced only in 2014-15 period and the whole platform was redesigned and the previous Mk-2 design concept which was just Mk1 air frame with 0.5m fuselage plug has been discarded to allow the platform to be classified as a Medium class aircraft. Since the 5th generation AMCA program was unofficially commissioned way before MWF was conceived, designers were able to feature in a lot of Radar cross-section (RCS) reduction measures in the air frame design to reduce electromagnetic and infrared signatures of the aircraft with use of carbon composite and thermoplastic composites at the frontal section of the aircraft to achieve better RCS reduction.
MWF fighter jet program will be replacing entire Mirage 2000, MiG-29 and Jaguar fighter fleet from Indian air force inventory of nearly 200 jets and since it will need to be operated in contested environments where stealth features will come in handy to improve the survivability of the platform and the pilot. MWF cannot be classified as a stealth aircraft but measures to reduce its RCS will ensure its survivability.
MWF will be getting new AESA Radar, on-board oxygen-generating system, Internal advanced electronic warfare (EW) suite, larger Multi-functional displays, the upgraded digital flight control computer (DFCC), Infra-Red Search and Track (IRST). Missile Approach warning system (MAWS) and Higher thrust engines which makes it distinctively class apart from the baseline LCA-Tejas fighter jets.
ADA is planning to later introduce an upgraded MWF infused with AMCA technology to develop a second variant of the aircraft to secure more orders of the same aircraft said the same official. AMCA program is likely to receive much need boosts to the program after the full-scale model is ready for Radar Cross Section (RCS) measurements at the ORANGE (Open Test Range Facility for Radar Cross Section Antenna Measurement) facility at Dundigal and Kautilya Advanced Research Centre at RCI, Hyderabad.