Gagan Shakti-2018: LCA Tejas matching raw power with the Big Boys of the Indian Air Force
The Indian Air Force’s pan-India exercise Gagan Shakti-2018, for practising war-time drills witnessed the IAF pushing the limits of its every fighter aircraft, including the Tejas, which entailed conducting six sorties per day on all of them, totalling to about 9,000 sorties. For the Tejas, this is a good development as the IAF usually sticks to around three sorties per day on every Tejas.
The 13-day Gaganxercises saw extensive testing of the newly-inducted homemade HAL Tejas supersonic fighter jet. Checking the combat capability of the LCA Tejas and its performance was a key area of focus of the exercises.
8 LCA Tejas were deployed during the exercise and two of them had reported minor technical issues, which resulted in 6 LCA Tejas flying six sorties daily like any other platforms including the state-of-the-art Su-30 MKI, Mirage 2000 and MiG-29 jets. The LCA had no option but to undergo the rigors of real War Time scenarios. It not only performed well and matched other fighter jets but exceeded expectation of pushing the Made in India machine to its limits.
All aircraft had 100 percent(8) availability ,out of which 75 percent serviceability. Each LCA Tejas (6 out of 08) made 6(total=6*6*14=504sorties approx) sorties each day lasting from 45 mins to 1.5 hours, with turnaround time was less than 6 hours, LCA earlier developed some snag in the day 1 of the exercise however since aircraft is complete digital it was rectified easily and the snags didn’t repeat themselves in the whole exercise where the rigorous tests of the aircraft in the battlefield was done where it proved its mettle.
The Su-30 MKI’s have the capability to look up to 300 km into enemy territory and can provide electronic intelligence to the IAF. It thus acts as a Mini AWACS that can communicate and guide other fighter jets to conduct combat or interception missions. A combination of a heavy fighter like the Su-30 MKI and an ultra light weight jet like the LCA in large numbers can surely turn the tide in a two-front war.
Top Brass of IAF is very keen on using Combination of Light category and Heavy category fighter jets to provide effective both offensive and defensive capabilities in case of the two front war where Sukhoi-30MKI is expected to fight on both the fronts and also guide and help other aircraft in the fleet for effective missions.
Sukhoi-30MKI due to its powerful NIIP N011M Bars (Panther) passive electronically scanned array radar is often used by IAF as “Mini-AWACS” to support various other aircraft in its fleet towards their mission objectives. Sukhoi-30MKI using its net-centric warfare capability can not only provide target information but also provide buddy firing mode, target information acquired by it but passed on to the other fighters.
Advanced sophisticated equipment’s from western nations and Israel has turned the Su-30 MKI into the most capable and advanced Flanker in the world which being flown by IAF.
The ninth IAF Tejas LCA completed its maiden flight in March. On July 1, 2016, the LCA Tejas was inducted into the ‘Flying Daggers’ 45 Squadron of the IAF and has been placed to replace the MiG-21 aircraft. In Gagan Shakti 2018, the IAF displayed its might and conducted the biggest ever exercise with a focus on key areas like long distance operations, aerial combat, air to surface combat, paratrooper assault and medical evacuation.
In this exercise, the Air Force validated its ‘Swing Capability’ where the IAF can get ready and reach from Western to Northern sector within 48 hours. On being asked about a two-front war-like situation, the sources said, “We have tried to maximise what we have. We have to fight with what we have.”
The IAF now plans to acquire 83 LCA MK-1 variants and around 200 LCA advance MK-2 variants in the near future. Production of the LCA is currently being scaled up by HAL to roll out 16 fighter jets per annum. The ninth IAF Tejas LCA completed its maiden flight in March. On July 1, 2016, the LCA Tejas was inducted into the ‘Flying Daggers’ 45 Squadron of the IAF and has been placed to replace the MiG-21 aircraft.
The LCA Tejas has surely earned a place to share hangar space with the Big Boys at strategic forward airbases to defend our country.
Source:- Defence News