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LCA Tejas Multirole Aircraft

Discussion in 'Indian Air Force' started by Dark_Prince, Apr 14, 2010.

  1. randomradio

    randomradio Colonel Technical Analyst

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    I don't have much faith in the LCA, but I have faith in HAL being able to deliver the jets necessary.

    Whether the LCA will be a good enough warfighter, that's to be seen.
     
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  2. Hellfire

    Hellfire Devil's Advocate Staff Member MODERATOR

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    And I have full faith in HAL messing up things, given half a chance ;)
     
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  3. randomradio

    randomradio Colonel Technical Analyst

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    I would have agreed to this last year, but not now.

    You are being unfair towards HAL. They got the CCS nod to expand the LCA line only in Feb this year. Even Dassault needed 2 years to expand Rafale production. HAL will get the new line running in 2018.
     
  4. W@rwolf

    W@rwolf FULL MEMBER

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    Finally! A level-headed and rational article.

    COLUMN: The Indian Air Force’s Tyranny Of Arithmetic
    By Sanjay Badri-Maharaj
    https://www.livefistdefence.com/2017/11/column-the-indian-air-forces-tyranny-of-arithmetic.html


    A somewhat curious report emanating from the Indian Air Force, purportedly in response to a request from the Government of India to reconsider its plans to procure a new type of single-engine fighter (SEF) under the “Make in India” initiative with the Tejas Light Combat Aircraft has sparked understandable and justifiable furore. While justifying the need for a new SEF, the report allegedly spoke in highly derogatory terms of the Tejas, even suggesting the MiG-21 was better in some respects.

    The Tejas – Not “Unfit for Indian Skies”

    While such a blatant untruth would not normally dignify a response, the Tejas program has had to endure more than its fair share of unjustified criticism (with justifiable criticism being less forthcoming). For the record, in its current incarnation – the Tejas Mk.1 IOC – the aircraft outperforms and is more combat capable than the MiG-21FL, MiG-21M and the MiG-21bis. In its FOC configuration, it will easily surpass the MiG-21bison in every aspect except level speed.

    There is of course justifiable criticism that the FOC for the Tejas is being excessively delayed. In part, this is apparently due to a shift in testing priorities at the request of the IAF. At their request, outstanding air-to-ground ordnance delivery issues and mid-wing pylon drop tank separation issues were prioritized over gun trials. This, and the request for inflight refueling to be part of FOC has set the process back. The latter issue, it is submitted, should have been left for post-FOC development. In the meantime, the BVR engagement envelope is being expanded. What is deeply regrettable is that to date HAL has shown no drive towards pushing the production of the Tejas at its required rate of 16 aircraft – indeed it hasn’t even attained the lower rate of 8 – per annum. This is having an impact on No.45 sqns ability to achieve operational status.

    What was also unfortunate is that the report gave highly distorted comparisons for range/ endurance and payload for the respective aircraft. The Tejas Mk.1 and the Gripen A are roughly comparable in most aspect except level speed and endurance, it is somewhat inferior to the Gripen C with the latter being a much more mature platform. The F-16 is a larger aircraft with larger payload. Comparisons of endurance are worthless without payload and flight profile data but suffice it to say, the Tejas has demonstrated a flight endurance of between 112-115 minutes on internal fuel already.

    The Tejas Mk.1 in its FOC configuration will therefore be an adequate fighter (certainly not “unfit for Indian skies” as one journalist termed it). Yet it would not be without shortcomings and these are proposed to be addressed in the Mk.1A variant which has the potential deploy an avionics and weapons package significantly superior to the Mk.1. However, once again, delays in avionics selection and testing are the bane of this program to the detriment of both the IAF and the ADA/HAL.

    However, one has to ask why the comparison of the Tejas Mk.1 with the Gripen C/ E or the F-16 Block 70? The Tejas is still at an early stage of its evolution – compare it with those aircraft at a similar stage of theirs and you will see aircraft that were without BVR capability and far more maintenance intensive that their later, more capable iterations. The IAF has done itself no favours with its less than honest comparison.

    The development and evolution of an aircraft takes the involvement of the user as a partner. To date, one senses the IAF to be a somewhat reluctant partner in the development of the Tejas. By comparison, the IAF had no problems inducting the MiG-21F when equipped with only 2 AAMs, no gun and an extraordinarily limited range and thereafter investing in its evolution. It had no issue with inducting the Mirage 2000 when the latter’s Super 530D missiles and Belouga submunition ordnance were not yet ready and it practically created the Sukhoi Su-30MKI from the modest Su-30K, which was not much more than a two-seat Su-27. So why not facilitate the evolution of the Tejas with a similar spirit of partnership and encouragement?


    Why a new Single Engine Fighter?

    So, with the Mk.1A promising to be a good aircraft and the Tejas Mk.1 an adequate one, why is there a need for a new SEF? The answer lies in the tyranny of arithmetic.

    The strength of the Indian Air Force peaked approximately 39.5 combat squadrons, with four MiG-23MF/-BN and six MiG-27ML squadrons forming the core of the strike assets and some seventeen MiG-21 FL/M/MF/bis squadrons forming the bulk of the air defence units. These were, at the time, complemented by the Jaguar, Mirage 2000 and MiG-29 squadrons, which added a high-technology cutting edge to an otherwise mediocre force. Since then, the MiG-21 and MiG-27 squadrons have been in decline and the MiG-23 phased out completely. The IAF today, has some 34 squadrons3 of which (1 each MiG-21M, MiG-21bis and non-upgraded MiG-27) – are to be phased out soon and can be considered removed from effective strength of the IAF.

    While the major force induction since the “peak” of IAF strength has been the Su-30MKI, the quest to replace the MiG-21/-23/-27 has been somewhat problematic. The Tejas was never intended to be a replacement for the MiG-23/-27 family. It is a light single-engine type as opposed to the MiG-23/-27 which were medium single-engine aircraft. It was always expected to replace a portion of the MiG-21 fleet rather than any other class of aircraft.

    Therefore, to expect the much smaller Tejas to fill a void for which it was not designed is perhaps expecting too much. Use of twin engine aircraft such as the Rafale for the tactical roles to which the MiG-23/-27 family was assigned is possible but would represent a somewhat expensive solution. In these circumstances, the IAF’s rationale for a new class of medium SFE comes into being. Plans to acquire a force of 126+63 Dassault Rafales have not come to pass and as such, new aircraft are needed. The unfortunate fact is that the Tejas, even in its Mk.1A version, will still be somewhat limited in terms of its payload and its range/ endurance. With the Mk.2 version neither funded nor being pushed, the Mk.1A will be an adequate but not necessarily ideal aircraft for filling certain roles that require greater range and payloads.


    The Challenge: The Tyranny of Force Arithmetic

    The IAF desires a strength of some 42 combat squadrons by the period 2027-32 to meet the contingencies of a two-front war. If we take the effective strength of the IAF to be 31 squadrons (the three remaining MiG-21M/bis and MiG-27 sqns being discarded), there is an immediate requirement for 11 more to meet its desired force levels by 2027. To date, three more Su-30MKI and two Dassault Rafale squadrons are on order with two squadrons of Tejas MK.1 fighters supplementing them. All this will add some seven squadrons to the IAF. However, six squadrons of MiG-21Bison and the two MiG-27UPG will be phased out by 2025. If no new aircraft are ordered, it is possible that the IAF would be left with 30 combat squadrons by 2025an overall deficiency of 12 squadrons when set against its desired strength. Subsequently, one Jaguar squadron is due to be retired by 2027, which would mean an overall deficiency of 13 squadrons.

    Options: The Tyranny of Production Arithmetic

    There is no way for production of the Tejas – even if it were to reach 16 aircraft per annum – to replace those thirteen squadrons. If the IAF is not desirous of accepting more Tejas Mk.1 squadrons– although a compelling argument could be made for the acceptance of three more to replace the non-upgraded MiG-27s and MiG-21M/bis – it means that it wishes to wait for the Mk.1A. This is yet to have its avionics selected – much less fly. This process must, of course be expedited but experience suggests that no more than 4 Mk.1A sqns are feasible by 2027. The suggestion of establishing production lines in the private sector has much merit but given the strategic partnerships already formed, this option may run into some difficulty.

    This leaves a gap of nine squadrons to be filled. These numbers suggest that the SFE – some five squadrons worth – are an important path towards reaching the IAF’s desired strength by the stipulated date. Therefore, as much as the Tejas should be supported, the IAF cannot do without the SFE option to meet its targeted fleet strength. Once again, the practicality of production means that even if SFE production were to start between 2021 and 2022, no more than five squadrons could be produced by 2027.

    Therefore, even the combined
    Tejas/ SFE effort would still leave the IAF short by at least four squadrons. It is here that the proposed twin-engine procurement comes into its own. This competition, it is submitted is superfluous and time consuming. The IAF has already indicated its desire for more Rafale squadrons and as such, additional aircraft could be ordered to fill this four squadron deficiency without the bureaucratic rigmarole of renewed trials.

    The Solution: Adopt Multiple courses of procurement.

    There is no single option that would satisfy the desire for the IAF to not only improve the quality of aircraft but also increase squadron strength. At present, the IAF and the government seem intent on adopting a three-phase solution involving the Tejas, the new SFE and a new twin-engine aircraft. Unfortunately, attempts to short-circuit or remove one of these options will not produce the desired results. It is therefore suggested that the way forward is:




      • Full support for the Tejas Mk.1A project has to be forthcoming on the part of all stakeholders – Government, ADA, HAL and IAF. This would deliver four squadrons to the IAF by 2025, with the prospect of additional aircraft if the Tejas Mk.2 is funded and developed through the necessary redesign of the airframe. A lack of focus and priority has been the bane of the Tejas project in recent years rather than technical shortcomings in the aircraft or technological hurdles. HAL’s somewhat lackadaisical approach to the production of Tejas Mk.1 has to end and partnership with ADA and the IAF intensified.
      • Forego the selection of a new twin-engine fighter under a “Make in India” initiative. The selection of the Rafale should stand and, subject to the price and technology transfer package being satisfactory, the induction of additional Rafale aircraft beyond the existing 36 should be considered as a priority. A separate twin-engine project, unless there are severe problems with the Rafale, is a time-consuming luxury with little benefit to India.
      • The Government of India through the Ministry of Defence and the IAF needs to take steps towards initiating the procurement of a single-engine type through the Strategic Partnership route. However, care must be taken for this program to feed into the Tejas Mk.2 project. Linkage between the SFE and the Tejas cannot be allowed to become competitive with the former undermining the latter. Rather it must become complimentary with expertise aiding in expediting the Tejas Mk.2, partnering with the ADA and HAL as needed. To date, this iteration of the SFE program has not been emphasized.
    It is understandable that the Government of India would desire the most cost-effective approach. Unfortunately, this is unlikely to achieve the results that the IAF desires. However, in putting forward its views, the IAF would do well to remember that gratuitous and fallacious attacks on the Tejas program do its image no good at all. The Tejas project has come too far and achieved too much to be cancelled at this stage and certainly not on the basis of highly suspect comparisons.

    Yet, while criticizing the IAF for its Tejas bashing is entirely justifiable, the truth is unless there is some dramatic progress in respect of the Mk.1A and an acceleration of Mk.1 production, there is no effective way for the Tejas to make up the squadron shortfall that the IAF is facing. In those circumstances, the Tejas, the SEF program and additional Rafales are all needed for the IAF to reach its sanctioned strength by 2027.


    -------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

    While the article is spot-on about the current situation and the steps needed to address the shortfall (note there is a slight variation in numbers needed, because the author hasn't included the retiring Bisons), It doesn't take into account the improvements to Tejas if Safanized-Kaveri can meet the performance requirements and the involvement of Dassault to re-engineer Mk-1A and produce a much better Mk-2 (The bigger Kaveri engine i.e. with >100Kn able to support a much heavier version that can close in on the payload of the likes of Gripen-E and F-16 Blk 70)

    But again, this envisaged Mk-2 version would be a available post 2025 at the earliest. AMCA project will have to be pushed back a little in that case. But the huge amount of capital saved on the SEF procurement can be injected into Mk-2 and AMCA development.

    I say order more Mk-1A to keep the lines running at full capacity until this new 'Mk-2' variant is ready for production.
     
    Last edited: Nov 15, 2017 at 4:06 PM
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  5. Sancho

    Sancho Lt. Colonel Technical Analyst

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    Not quite, since the author didn't understood, that the government asked IAF if Tejas could take over SE MMRCA requirements and that that's the reason for the comparison, so blaming IAF for their correct analysis, that he even shares, is pointless!

    He also makes the same mistakes of shifting blame to find excuses for LCAs problems (FOC issues, by hiding the fact that the change of nose and the lack of AAMs, were crucial for delays), but there are truths hidden in between too:


    So his question:
    ...is answered by himself, by the fact that not enough Rafales were ordered to cover the medium class requirement and that Tejas Mk1A won't be capable enough.
     
    Last edited: Nov 15, 2017 at 6:35 PM
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  6. stephen cohen

    stephen cohen Lieutenant FULL MEMBER

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  7. Ved Mishra

    Ved Mishra Lieutenant FULL MEMBER

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    I believe the smaller THALES RBE-2 AESA-MMR developed and tested will go into Tejas MK2. There seems no logical reason for Thales to develop it without a requirement on it's own.

    What I foresee is that the Monopoly enjoyed by Russia till date in IAF inventory will be over and France will start eating into its pie slowly and slowly.
     
  8. W@rwolf

    W@rwolf FULL MEMBER

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    I said 'level-headed' because most of the other article out there either irrationally bash the Tejas program without realizing the reasons for its shortcomings, or support Tejas unconditionally saying that SEF are not at all needed without looking at its current capacity to fill that void. Both these views are wrong. The above article clearly mentions the requirement of new purchases to fill squadron numbers.

    Also, all the details of the IAF 'presentation' to the govt wasn't made public. We do not know exactly what all points were discussed, hence it is possible those incomplete information can be used by anyone out of context to suite their narrative.

    Yes, the Mk-1 does not meet expectations, Mk-1A is much closer to the ASQR, but not enough on its own to fill the IAFs operational doctrine. Hence the requirement for another SEF with a higher payload to balance the reduced payload from Mk-1A squadrons. Gripen-E and F-16 Blk70 are not MMRCA, atleast for the IAF. That's one of the reason why they were dropped from the original MRCA competition. They are now being proposed to fill the deficiencies of Tejas/SEF squadron numbers. Hence have no relation to Rafale/TEF procurement.

    If Tejas Mk-2 (with Dassault assistance and SAFRAN-ised Kaveri) can match or even exceed the ASQR, there is no longer a need for Gripen or F-16.
    But politics also has a role play in this decision. India needs to shore up support from the US through a major defence deal. Both Modi and Trump is eyeing an F-16 deal for this purpose (Although not in accordance with his 'American First policy, 'Trump can get away with it as he's building a strategic partnership with another global player and also since a lot of the production will be retained in the US)

    So its upto the govt to decide whether to go ahead with F-16 purchase (let's not kid ourselves with the chances of Gripen anymore) which will only see an order worth a total of 6 Sqn worth of Tejas in the IAF fleet; or to cancel the whole SEF nonsense, ask IAF to immediately sign-off on Mk-1A final configuration for avionics/sensors, order those 83 jets ASAP, use the SEF funds to increase in-house R&D along with increasing infrastructure to ramp up production rate, rope in Dassault and ask them to be part of the Tejas program officially by giving them a stake in the development (be it LRU production or re-design contracts) and increase the Mk-1A orders until this new Mk-2 is ready for serial production. Yes, the fleet numbers wont reach the desired 42 sqn-level strength before 2032 as required by IAF, but atleast we wont be making the same mistake as we did after Marut program.

    What people don't realize is that if we don't order the LCA in numbers to stabilize the production line, build an ecosystem of tiered-suppliers, sort out issues with logistics, maintainability of the aircraft, production schedules, training of workforce for production (not assembly) etc, say goodbye to AMCA or any other aircraft projects in the foreseeable future.
     
  9. Ved Mishra

    Ved Mishra Lieutenant FULL MEMBER

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    Agree. However the big question is will Dassault team up with HAL for Tejas MK2?
     
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  10. W@rwolf

    W@rwolf FULL MEMBER

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    Its quiet possible, not just going by @PARIKRAMA or @randomradio 's sources; but the recent flurry of activity and visits by French govt officials and CEOs to India. There are meetings going on both in France and in India between industries to chalk out a plan for partnerships and a roadmap to plan how this cooperation can be taken forward.
     
    Last edited: Nov 15, 2017 at 11:37 PM
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  11. vstol jockey

    vstol jockey Colonel MILITARY STRATEGIST

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    The options with DA are two or rather with French. first support LCA and increase the orders of Rafale or be ready to lose numbers to SE deal. if you were a frenchman, what wud you chose?
     
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  12. Ved Mishra

    Ved Mishra Lieutenant FULL MEMBER

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    It's easy choice for them. They will again not guarantee performance if they are made by HAL. However they may guarantee it if it is made in Mihan at DRAL facility. Will the GoI allow it is to be seen. Had uttam and Kaveri been successful by now it would have been a different story altogether.
     
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  13. _Anonymous_

    _Anonymous_ 2nd Lieutant FULL MEMBER

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    I don't think it's an either / or situation anymore .The SE is in the picture precisely because the LCA programme has been interminably delayed not to mention the fact that it's a sub optimal platform in its current avatar , even by the standards of the FA it's supposed to replace .

    I agree with the post of @W@rwolf . We need the LCA in its proposed iteration - the MK1A and the future MK2 . Contrary to what people may think out here , the 4.5 / 4.5+ gen FA is still going to be relevant in our part of the world right up the 2040's and perhaps up until 2050 . The Chinese are yet to refine their expertise on 5th gen technologies .Going by purely anecdotal evidence , they'd require a good 10 years or more to do so . Even after that they aren't going to replace all their 3rd and 4th gen FA with 5th gen FA.And they've quite a lot of them to replace .


    Which is why the F-16 is relevant . To make up the nos quickly & to fill in for the mothballed squadrons in the next 5-10 years . Even if it's a 40+ year old FA with no further upgrades possible . A 5-6 squadron component would more than suffice to meet up to the war doctrine of the IAF between the 2025-30 timeline .That is where the Mk2 is relevant too for the reasons @W@rwolf clearly detailed in his elaborate post .My only grouse is it won't be a candidate for a 2 front scenario . Then again , we don't know if the Mk2 or the Gripen E / (NG?) qualify on this front .

    The TE FA can then be taken up for MII and further collaborations with DA w.r.t F4 or / and AMCA can be explored post 2019 given our present financial situation .

    A lot has been said and discussed these past few weeks on these topics which are deeply intertwined .The situation is very fluid and dynamic . We still aren't sure of the contours of the Indo US strategic relationship and it's ramifications on our strategic relationship with Russia , all of which has an important bearing on the procurement / upgradation of equipment by all the services particularly by the IAF in the present context .

    I don't think we can just up and leave the PAKFA / FGFA programme whatever it's limitations in its current iteration ( predictions of its future iterations in various posts of @randomradio nothwithstanding ) .

    Similarly , while our strategic relationship with the French seems to be on a better footing , we still are unaware of how will it manifest itself in the various programmes we have / propose to undertake with them . The successful and quick implementation of the Kaveri project would open up a number of avenues in this partnership and clear many misgivings , since there seems to be lingering suspicion of the true intentions of DA in many quarters of our establishment , given their past conduct in the MMRCA affair .
     
    Last edited: Nov 16, 2017 at 2:32 AM
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  14. Sancho

    Sancho Lt. Colonel Technical Analyst

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    The problem is not the presentation, but the misconception of the media, to create an issue of IAF against Tejas. That caused the hype now and that's what's sensational journalism is about, when things are taken out of context, to create a problem.
    All the following articles (including this one) took the same misconception up and tried to justify Tejas, which however was not the issue, nor is there any IAF official mentioned, that would have even hinted not buying LCA.


    That's a misconception too, because most of the MK1A upgrades, are not aimed at meeting the ASQR, but modernisations of already available systems, that are necessary due to more than a decade of delay in induction Tejas.

    - pulse doppler radar gets modernised with AESA radar
    - RWR and SPJ, with newer versions
    - cockpit displays with larger once
    - R73 hopefully with Python V
    ...

    To meet the ASR Tejas needs the MK2 upgrade, because only that will make the changes to improve aerodynamics and flight performance.

    If that would be true, IAF had never evaluated them in the first place and rejected their RFP proposals. So let's not make things up here. :rolleyes2:

    Which is another typical example of why things went wrong with the LCA programme. We simply fail to see at Tejas in a simple way and always have to make more out of it, than it was suppose to be!

    The MK2 upgrade was needed to fix the problems of MK1, not to make it comparable to medium class fighters / world class / best in the class.../, even with the imaginary things you added. That's like saying a Mig 21 Bison is as good as a Mig 29, because both use the same AAM's. But if we keep pride out, it gets clear that we have to focus on meeting the ASR and not the MMRCA requirements, to finally make a good light class fighter out of it.

    IAF is clear, that they want...

    Heavy class MKI
    Medium class Rafale and SE's
    Light class Tejas

    And moving away from this mix in favour for pride, dreams or politics, puts the nation in danger!
     
    Last edited: Nov 16, 2017 at 1:34 AM
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  15. Sancho

    Sancho Lt. Colonel Technical Analyst

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    And none of them has to do with LCA!

    French officials were in India for the opening of the DRAL facility, which as we know is aimed at offsets from the Rafale deal.
    The naval chief visited French nuclear subs and related facilities.
     
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