Which fighter aircraft does India need badly in the coming years, Tejas MKII or AMCA?
HAL Tejas Mk II is more importantly a Medium Weight Fighter which is intended to replace the India’s present fleet of Mirage-2000H in coming year of 2030. Unlike its predecessor Tejas Mk 1 and Mk 1A, which predominantly comes under the category of Light Combat Aircraft, it will be a predominantly a Medium Weight Fighter with more focus on heavy payload and carrying capacity.
Presently HAL Tejas Mk 1 and 1A have 8 hard points on its pylon with internal fuel capacity of 2458 kg. But Tejas Mk II will have the same configuration as of the present Tejas Mk 1 and Mk 1A, but a little bit more heavier, more payload capacity and more advanced. The present configuration which is being proposed is that the Tejas Mk II will be having
11 hard point against the present 8 hard points of the present HAL Tejas Mk 1 and 1 A.
Secondly HAL Tejas Mk II will be 1350 mm longer and 300 mm wider than its present variant of the Mk 1 and Mk 1A.
HAL Tejas Mk 1 and 1A has internal fuel capacity of 2458 kg while the Mk II will be having an increased fuel capacity of 3300 kg.
And more importantly Tejas Mk II would be having canards.
These all things would place it under the category of Non Stealth 4++ Generation fighters along with SAAB Gripen, Rafale and Mig-35.
Advanced Medium Combat Aircraft/AMCA
Advanced Medium Combat Aircraft/AMCA is a 5th Generation stealth fighter developed by Aeronautical Development Agency. As per the information hence revealed,
The first demonstration flight would be taking up between 2019–2022
The second one most probably would be taking up the skies between 2022–2024.
And the final prototype would be taking up the skies only by 2032.
AMCA is more intended to be Stealth Air Superiority Fighter which will be replacing the fleet of Sukhoi-30 MKI of Indian Air Force with following features;
Which fighter aircraft does India need badly in the coming years, Tejas MKII or AMCA?
HAL Tejas Mk II Medium Weight Fighter is intended to replace the Mirage-2000H and Jaguar aircraft.
If we see more precisely then would found that MWF is planned accordingly to suit the capability of the aircraft which it is going to replace. The focus would be more on its strike capabilities than others.
MWF would be having SCALP, Crystal Maze, Spice 2000 carrying capability along with Air to Air Missile.
This clearly shows though the aircraft would be under the category of Multirole Fighter, but would be more suited under Strike Fighter. Just like Mirage-2000, which is also a multirole fighter but IAF used it more precisely for Strike Actions.
MWF will be a 4++ Generation capable fighter aircraft.
As per the sources, the Tejas MWF will be available to IAF by 2030. So basically it would take atleast more 5–7 years or more for MWF to be totally combat ready and totally replacing the intended aircraft it intends to replace.
And the way our present HAL Mk 1 and 1A progress is going on, I doubt that it would really be able to present itself by early 2030.
This not only focuses on the development stage, but do also on other major factors like pricing and others. Because the finalization of the Tejas Mk 1A was on hold because of the price tag which HAL was presenting.
Now regarding AMCA
Presently there is a transition going on where most of the Air Forces of the world is transiting from 4th Generation to the 5th Generation and some to 6th Generation as well.
This is because, the Air Combat is evolving heavily, much more faster than what it is intended. With the advent of the Supersonic Cruise Missiles, ICMB, much more sophisticated Air Defence Systems and others there will be a dire need of the Stealth capability by the Air Forces of the world.
United States Air Force has already retired a Stealth Bomber and in service has 4 types of Stealth Fighters.
China’s PLAAF has already inducted the J-20 in active service. Not only that no one even has a clue that how many of them did PLAAF has. On September 5, 2019 China unveiled the largest ever formation of its J-20 thus giving the Western Experts a spin.
Biggest ever formation of J-31
Not only that PLAAF is already building another Stealth Fighter which goes by the name of FC-31 which is right now under trials.
Russia has finally gone for the serial production of its stealth fighter, Sukhoi Su-57.
Apart than that F-35 is already in service with 14 Air Forces, 3 Navies and 1 Marine Corps.
Additional to it South Korea and Indonesia is developing a 5th Generation fighter which may be available by 2025 and so is Turkey which is also building a 5th Generation fighter which will be available by 2025. Turkey in association with BAE has recently unveiled the first mock up of the Stealth Fighter.
Last but not the least Pakistan is also focusing on this arena. Pakistan has launched a project known as Project Azam FGFA for development of the 5th Generation Fighter.
Now let us see about the present scenario of AMCA
Unlike HAL Tejas, AMCA is developed solemnly by Aeronautical Development Agency/ADA and will be manufactured by HAL.
Not only that a Specialized Test Facility is being built at Coimbatore for the sole testing of the AMCA.
Indian Air Force has already given go ahead for the Technology Demonstration Phase. Add to it the Request for Expressions of Interest (REOI) has also been released.
Earlier AMCA was intended to replace the Mirage-2000H, Mig-29 and Jaguar, but later on it was scrapped on when HAL came in with the plan of MWF Tejas. Thus now AMCA is been developed so as to replace the Sukhoi-30 MKI with Indian Air Force.
Unlike the Tejas program where ADA and HAL both worked together to manufacture the aircraft, it took much considerable amount of time for the aircraft to actually come into the reality. Number of things like poor bureaucracy and others plagued the plans number of time. But this time it is ADA solemnly on charge with manufacturing by HAL.
The progress report of the AMCA is quite impressive when we compare it with Tejas. Though Tejas program got some serious problems like Sanctions imposed by United States after Pokhran 2, but still then the development and outcomes of the AMCA Program is quite impressive.
The AMCA Program started in 2009, while the design conceptualized in 2012 and shown to IAF, the 1:8 model was unveiled in Aero India 2013 and Project Definition started in 2013 itself. But back then in order to accelerate the Tejas Program and in order to push for IOC of Tejas the AMCA Program was put on hold which delayed the program a bit.
Thus if I say, though we face a little bit delay, but still the program is on its way with outcome quite impressive.
With China already having a operational Stealth Fighter, another Stealth Fighter on its test run it is necessary for India to also focus on its arena and accelerate the program.
If Indonesia-South Korea 5th Generation aircraft actually comes into reality within the time zone it will definitely change the geo-political scenario of the South East Asia. Thus it is necessary for India too go for this.
Turkey too is also developing its FGFA, with it is being kicked out of the F-35 program and its close association with Pakistan, it also clears a way for India to accelerate its AMCA Program. The same thing is with China too, China closeness with Pakistan in every aspect and its closeness with Pakistan Aeronautical Complex/PAC which is right now developing the Project Azam FGFA Program, it gives ample of opportunities for India too for accelerating the AMCA Program.
We actually need both of them. We need the Tejas Mk II MWF and AMCA as well. But the way the Tejas Production is going on it is quite unlikely that we will be able to get the end products as said. Though Tejas is a potent and lethal platform, but number of times deadlines of productions has been missed by HAL. Mig-21s and Mig-27s are already quite absolute, we need to replace them urgently. The initial plan was to replace the Mig-21 only, but it is a target which never met. By 2030, the Jaguars and the Mirage-2000H would also be on the verge of retirements. The plan of Jaguars has already been made, owing to the Propulsion System problem of the Jaguar. Thus if IAF needs to replace these two with MWF, we seriously needs to think about it. Though Rafales and the additional Rafale if India thinks to buy goes in handit will bring some relief, but still something has to be done.
The progress of AMCA is quite impressive, if the project was not on hold due to the IOC Clearance, the 1:1 model would have been out earlier. It intends to replace the Su-30 MKI, so basically let’s see how it goes, just hoping it did not go in any kind of problem or delay just like the Tejas Program.