Is the Indian-made Tejas a reliable fighter in a real war?
During the recent Gagan-Shakti Exercise conducted by Indian Army and Indian Air Force , HAL/ADA Tejas already proved its mettle and showed how reliable it is. IAF deployed its 8 Tejas Fighter Aircrafts out of which 6 were were able to go over 6 sorties per day which speaks volumes about the capability of this platform.
The key to high serviceability of Tejas compared to other IAF assets is due to the fact that the prime assets of IAF like Su-30MKI makes heavy use of electro-hydraulic systems which needs regular updating and checks and even servicing for several hours to keep them combat-ready. LCA Tejas on the other hand utilizes internal monitoring systems which can diagnose system faults through plug-in testers. This makes Tejas much more simplified than Su-30MKI or any other aircraft in IAF in terms of serviceability and maintainability.
LCA Tejas showed some minor technical faults due to climate change which was fixed up within few hours thanks to readily available HAL engineers and technicians. LAC Tejas underwent the tough rigors of simulated real-life combat performing almost 504 sorties in total during the whole exercise. Sorties as small as 30 minutes to as large as 1.5 hours were performed which showed the endurance capacities of LCA Tejas as a platform and also exhibited its ground attack , air defense and strike mission capabilities.
IAF is already looking to tap the capabilities of using a combo of a heavy-weight air dominance fighter and a light-weight fighter in offensive nature as well as defensive nature where Su-30MKI can perform in the roles of a “Mini-AWACS” thanks to its powerful Bars radar and its net-centric capabilities which enables many features such as “Buddy Firing Mode” , “Target Identification and Localization” and more.
In a real life combat , IAF can deploy in more Tejas with greater serviceability than any other combat aircraft ( except Rafales ) thanks to the easy availability of spare parts and servicing from HAL due to an easy ecosystem for Tejas developed in India. The long , painful development period of LCA Tejas has bore in many results and further Indian projects like AURA and AMCA will capitalize on this newly-formed ecosystem.
Lets suppose Tejas is now deployed for a high-altitude strike mission. High-Altitude flying is the biggest bane for any Fighter pilot. However Tejas has demonstrated flawless high altitude flying. Two Tejas can be deployed with 4 Laser-Guided Bombs with two more Air-to-Air Missiles which omits the need for an escort like in the case of Kargil War where Mig-29B provided cover to Mirage 2000 when it was bombing Pakistani intruders.
With this configuration , 4 Tejas can be far more deadly than the Mirages and an effective choice for light strike roles where the threat level is low. It can perform self escorted missions in enemy airspace and perform its role effectively.