Tejas Mk2(MWF) :- India’s Swadeshi MMRCA
With the Indian Air Force’s (IAF’s) MMRCA program getting serially delayed and recast more than once, there was a feeling in various quarters that the Tejas Mk2 design should perhaps evolve further than what was initially envisaged to provide an indigenous option for the IAF’s requirements. Thus, the IAF and the Aeronautical Development Agency (ADA) sat down to redefine the Tejas Mk2 with more elaborate modifications such that it could function as a medium weight fighter for ground attack roles while continuing to be nimble in the air to air (A2A) role. In fact, the version of the Tejas Mk2 currently envisaged has been rebadged as the Medium Weight Fighter or (MWF) and is being designed as a replacement for the Mirage 2000 with a view to surpassing its capabilities in almost every respectTejas has always echoed with the emotions of Indians. From the day itconducted its first flight in 2001, Tejas was always looked upon as the pride on Indian aerospace industry and its prowess. A lot of politics were played around Tejas from inside the country and from outside. Despite all the odds and delays in the development of various sub-systems and power plant, Tejas was finally inducted into the IAF in January 2015 with IOC (Initial Operational Clearance) into No.45 squadron IAF Flying Daggers.
With the receipt of FOC (Final Operational Clearance) in February 2019 during the Aero-India show, Tejas has become fully operational with a few short comings though, fulfilling the dreams of millions of Indians who wanted to see a desi bird defending our skies.
As already discussed above, the FOC variant of Tejas too had some short comings and in order to overcome the short comings and to add the improvements suggested by the IAF, HAL and ADA introduced a more powerful and feature rich variant, the Mk2 which can also be called as the MWF (Medium Weight Fighter). HAL gave the name MWF to the Mk2 as MWF is more than just an upgrade, but it is a totally different fighter compared to Tejas as per HAL officials.
One of the most important upgrades out of the 11 upgrades suggested by the IAF was the power plant. It is general knowledge that the Tejas Mk1 is powered by the GE-404 turbofan engine generating a dry thrust of 53.9 KN and 90 KN thrust with afterburner. Mk2/MWF uses the more powerful GE-414 engine generating more thrust 58.5 KN dry thrust and 98 KN with afterburner. Other important upgrades include the introduction of canards to the MWF which make the fighter more maneuverable than the Mk1 variant with adding high Angle of attack and better stall characteristics.
The length of the air craft increased to more than 15m with front fuselage measuring up to 6.1m, middle fuselage measuring up to 4.5m and rear fuselage measuring up to 3.5m respectively. These figures were obtained from the recent tender documents that were released. This brings the Tejas Mk2 more closely to SAAB’s Gripen which was one of the contenders for MMRCA 2.0 in terms of length.
Next big update is the inclusion of IRST (Infrared search and Track) sensor and a retractable refueling probe which is absent from the Mk1/Mk1a variants. The wings on the MWF get an upgrade with 4 hard points on each wing along with a hard point on the wing tip, bringing the total number of hard points to 11. This makes the air craft capable of carrying a pay load of 6.5 tons.
The intakes also get an upgrade from the Mk1/Mk1a variant as the MK2/MWF has a canted air intakes reducing the wave drag drastically. This also helps in reducing the RCS (Radar Cross Section) of the MK2/MWF. MWF will also have an indigenous OBOG (Onboard Oxygen Generation System) that is being developed by DRDO. A range of electronics will be added to the MWF including an electronic warfare suite. Among the other important upgrades for MWF includes AESA radar. Active Electronically Scanned Array radar is new generation radar which consists of GaAs (Gallium Arsenide) TRR modules (Transmitter and Receiver) which are highly efficient and powerful. Initially, ELTA ELM-2052 AESA radar from Israel will be used in Mk1/Mk1a and afterwards the radar will be replaced by indigenously developed UTTAM AESA radar in Mk2/MWF. Reports are out that UTTAM radar is being tested on a LSP variant.
At least Four RCS reduction measures will be incorporated in the air frame design so that ” Semi Stealth ” can be achieved with help from the use of fully internal electronic warfare system to defuse radar frequency (RF) and infrared (IR) threats while on the mission.
MWF will also get a stealth coating paint which has been developed specifically for the AMCA program but only at certain sections to manage absorption of all radar frequencies. Critical RCS reduction measures in the air frame will be
1) Wing and Canard edge alignment to reduce drag and also reduce friction heat and improve RF deflection,
2) Air intakes ducts will have twisted design so that engine blades can be carefully hidden inside the intake duct.
3) Radar-absorbent materials on the critical sections of the fuselage will be used 4) Sharp edges at front fuselage will also help reduce radar cross-section.
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.
Source:- Alpha Defense