Forget FGFA and F-16s its time India backs its Homegrown Tejas and AMCA Fighter Planes
India has spent nearly 2000 Crores on Russia’s Pak-fa 5th generation fighter jet program even when it is not sure it will be joining the program to co-develop a customised version of the jets to meet Indian Air Force requirements, while on the other hand India’s own 5th generation AMCA fighter program was given official funding of only 230 crores while it’s still been kept pending for final approval .
Indian Government past and the current one have shown a great level of interest and urgency to clear purchase or to initiate fighter jet modernisation program while our own local projects are struggling due to under par funding to this projects.
India needs to invest more in the Tejas aircraft because it would help in the development of indigenous technology and reduce our dependency on other nation in such strategic a sector as defence. India has had a number of experiences in the past when the vendors had increased the cost of critical spares during wartime. Thus, the development of indigenous technology in the defence sector will help us seat ourselves sure. This would also help us in enhancing our military technology without a large hike in the defence budget because the indigenous technologies are always cheaper than the imported ones. This would also raise the morale of the scientific community related to this sector which has been occupying the back seat from a long time. This would also justify the ‘Make in India’ slogan of the Government of India.
HAL Tejas MK2
HAL Tejas Mark 2 is being developed to meet the latest Indian Force Requirements and will incorporate fifth-generation jet fighters elements which are intended to make way into the Sukhoi/HAL Fifth Generation Fighter Aircraft (FGFA) and HAL Advanced Medium Combat Aircraft (AMCA).It is being developed for the use of Indian Air Force and Indian Navy.
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) and later it will be replaced with indigenously developed Astra air to air missile and other 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.
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 LCA Tejas Mark 2 will be powered by the more powerful GE-F414-INS6 engine. ADA is procuring 99 GE-F414-INS6 engines to power the Tejas Mk-2 and LCA Navy. The contract has been finalized and is awaiting approval.Under the contract, the first lot of the engines will come by 2014-15 and the rest would be manufactured in India under transfer of technology [agreements].
The Tejas Mark 2 may feature an indigenously developed active electronically scanned array (AESA) fire control radar named Uttam.Uttam AESA radar is made for Air-to-air sub-modes but development has started for air-to-ground mode radar as it is crucial for aircraft to carry out high-resolution mapping,multiple grounds moving target detection and track,combat identification,electronic warfare and ultra high bandwidth communications .
Advanced Medium Combat Aircraft (AMCA) is an Indian programme of a fifth-generation fighter aircraft. It is being developed by an aerospace industry team which consist of Aeronautical Development Agency as a design firm and to be manufactured by Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL). It is a single-seat, twin-engine, stealth supermaneuverable all weather multirole fighter aircraft. Unofficial design work on the AMCA started in 2008 with official work started in 2011 and completed in 2014. In 2008 Indian Navy joined the programme for the naval variant optimized for the aircraft carriers operation. The first flight is scheduled to occur in 2023–2024.
It is a multirole combat aircraft designed for the air superiority, ground attack, bombing, intercepting, Strike and other types of roles. It combines supercruise, stealth, AESA radar, maneuverability, and advanced avionics to overcome and suppress previous generation fighter aircraft along with many ground and maritime defences.
Several people have doubts on AMCA that it would be successful program or not. However, there are many reasons why AMCA wouldn’t suffer as much as Tejas did. As Tejas became reality on 4th of January 2001 when this date became historic in the chapters of Indian Aeronautical Industry when Tejas made its first flight. Since then, there were many problems faced by the development team for getting the thumbs-up from Indian Armed Forces. Many parts were imported because there wasn’t any local industry in India which could make these parts. For example, the engines (G.E F-104), zero-zero ejection seats (Martin Baker), actuators (Moog), Radome (Cobham), missiles (Vympel NPO), and Radar (Elta EL/M 2032) are of USA, British, USA, Russian and Israeli origin respectively.
Since India’s defence forces are rapidly gaining strength, it’s obvious that it would need plenty of defence equipments. And with new policy of Make-in-India, now several Indian Industries are getting involved in Defence sector. Like LCA’s Air-frame was totally made by HAL/NAL. But now, many private companies are getting involved. So this has created easy path for the LCA and as-well-as AMCA.
Encouragingly, the AMCA will enjoy an impetus the LCA never got, now that the IAF has thrown its weight and support behind the AMCA programme. While the IAF stood aloof from the LCA, participating only as a critic, it has joined hands with ADA in formulating the AMCA’s configuration, and is deputing pilots and engineers to work alongside ADA as it designs the fighter. It is unclear what is driving this dramatic change in the IAF’s approach to indigenisation. It could be the realisation — stemming from the Rafale fiasco — that India simply cannot afford to import sizeable numbers of modern fighters. It could be the positive example of the navy, which has wisely steered the process of designing and building warships in India. Or, in an organisation that is shaped by the personality of the top man, it could just be that the current IAF chief favours indigenisation.
While the IAF will be praised if the AMCA meets its objectives, credit should really go to the unfairly vilified DRDO-HAL-ADA combine for leapfrogging three generations of technology in developing the fourth-generation Tejas fighter. In this process, the LCA project has catalysed an aerospace eco-structure, and a design experience, that will be the essential springboard to the AMCA.
A range of fighter aircraft technologies is already mastered. These include: a sophisticated “unstable configuration” for extra agility; quadruplex digital flight control system; light composite materials for the aero-structures; glass cockpit with digital instrumentation; an environment control system with an on-board oxygen generating system (OBOGS); and advanced avionics that allow the pilot to switch quickly between air-to-air and air-to-ground roles. With much of these Gen-4 technologies currently being refined for the Tejas Mark II, the AMCA team can focus on the Gen-5 challenges.
The IAF’s future lies in its own hands. At the recent Paris Air Show, the Pakistan Air Force displayed its new Sino-Pakistani fighter, the JF-17 Thunder. Countries like Myanmar and Sri Lanka were reportedly making purchase enquiries. While significantly inferior to the Tejas in technologies and performance, the JF-17 was better in one crucial respect — it was steadfastly supported by its home air force. Perhaps the IAF could draw a lesson from that.