Fighter HAL Tejas. Failure or reason for pride?

In February, another solemn ceremony was held in India, associated with the latest HAL Tejas Mk 1 fighters. Aviation the regulator officially authorized the air force to operate this type of aircraft. Tejas fighters were adopted several years ago and are already being mass-produced, and now the Air Force has the right to fully use them. Nevertheless, the latest Indian aircraft still have a lot of problems and do not meet the requirements for modern fighters. How should this project be evaluated?


Time and its requirements

History The project, now called Tejas, is well known. The development of a promising Indian lightweight class fighter was launched in 1983 year. According to the plans of the time, the goal of the project was to create an aircraft to replace the Soviet MiG-21. The development of the project was to be carried out by local industry with minimal participation of foreign organizations. The lack of serious experience and design school led to understandable results, the consequences of which are still felt.


HAL Tejas Mk 1 fighter in flight. Photo of Wikimedia Commons


Thus, the first prototype LCA type aircraft was built only in the 1996 year, and its flight tests began in the 2001-m - almost 18 years after the start of the program. Further testing, refinement and refinement of the project also took a lot of time - due to technical and technological problems, as well as due to repeated changes in customer requirements. The LCA / Tejas fighter was adopted only in the 2015 year, and an operating permit appeared only a few weeks ago.

Lack of experience and design school led not only to delay the work. Indian specialists from Hindustan Aeronautics Limited and related organizations had to independently solve various engineering and scientific problems that had long been studied by foreign colleagues. There were also known technological difficulties.

The main provisions of the current Tejas project were laid at the turn of the eighties and nineties. Since then, the design and composition of equipment has been changed several times, but the overall concept has not undergone fundamental changes. Apparently, this may also be the roots of current problems.


Aircraft "Tejas" without painting. Metal and composite plating elements are visible. Photo by HAL / tejas.gov.in


In fact, the project Tejas was about trying to catch up with world leaders, having limited capabilities. The results of this are well known: only a few years ago, India was able to bring to use its first fourth-generation fighter. It should be noted that at the same time, the leading countries with developed aviation industry managed to master the next fifth generation, ensuring a serious lead. If in the past, in the first years after the start of work on the LCA, the new Indian plane could be considered modern with reservations, by now it has become morally obsolete.

Own production

Perhaps the main goal of the LCA / Tejas project was to master the production of fighters at its own Indian enterprises. This problem was successfully solved. 60% of Tejas units in its current form were created and put into production in India. Other components still have to be purchased abroad, but in the future it is possible to master the production of such products.

Several Indian organizations are involved in the production, responsible for the supply of certain units and the implementation of various works. At the moment, the main tasks of the project are solved by the state enterprise HAL. It produces a number of components, receives aggregates from subcontractors, and performs a general assembly. However, this approach does not allow to obtain the desired rate of production. HAL can produce no more than 15-16 machines annually.

Fighter HAL Tejas. Failure or reason for pride?
Division of airframe into units for production at different enterprises. Figure Wikimedia Commons


To increase the pace of production, it is proposed to involve private companies in the work. There is a plan according to which the wing will be made by Larsen & Turbo, and the fuselage will be assembled from components from Dynamic Technologies), VEM Technologies and Alpha Design & Dynamics. The approach to the production of avionics and other equipment will remain the same. At the expense of cooperation it is planned to increase the rate of release to 24 fighters per year.

The Indian Air Force has already ordered a new type of Hindustan Aeronautics Limited 120 company. To date, about a quarter of this order has been completed. It is planned to complete deliveries under the current contract in 2025. Getting to the desired pace of production will allow faster to get all the fighters of the first contract, after which a new one should appear.


Cabin equipment. Photo of Wikimedia Commons


According to various estimates, the Indian Air Force needs hundreds of light fighters. Some of these needs are planned to be closed by purchasing imported equipment, while others will be built independently. It is believed that the purchase of modern foreign aircraft with the simultaneous construction of HAL Tejas will update the fleet of equipment with the desired results and at reasonable costs.

Technical issues

Production problems are not least related to the characteristic technical appearance of the aircraft. Thus, the Indian airframe uses modern materials and technologies, the creation and development of which was not an easy task. In its current form, the Tejasa glider includes aluminum and titanium alloys, as well as several types of composite materials. Composites account for almost half of the mass of the structure and 95% of the outer surface of the aircraft. Composites also reduced the weight of the aircraft by 21% compared to the all-metal construction.

A significant part of the composite parts is in the form of large-sized panels. It is from these parts consist of the wing and the keel. Control surfaces are also mainly made of non-metallic materials. Mastering the production of such components is an extremely difficult task, even for a developed industry. Not having the necessary experience, India coped with it, and now it can produce serial fighters.


One of the first prototypes of LCA / Tejas and its nomenclature of armaments. Photo Airwar.ru


Tejas serial fighters are equipped with General Electric F404-GE-IN20 turbojet engines. In the past, the development of its own engine GTRE GTX-35VS "Kaveri", but the lack of experience and the necessary technology is not allowed to complete it successfully. However, the imported engine solves the tasks and gives the aircraft the desired characteristics.

Avionics was created by the joint efforts of Indian industry and foreign enterprises. So, on the “Tejas” aircraft of different series, the radar stations EL / M-2032 and EL / M-2052, created with the active participation of the Israeli company Elta, are used. Israel also contributed to the cabin equipment and other onboard equipment. The cab has been developed with extensive use of multifunctional screens, a helmet-mounted target designation system, as well as HOTAS-type controls.

The maximum take-off mass of the HAL Tejas fighter reaches 13,5 T. The maximum speed is 2200 km / h, the combat radius using PTB is 500 km. The payload is defined in 3,5 t. Thus, even in the basic flight performance of the Tejas, at least, does not exceed other planes of its generation.


Placement of weapons on hangers. Figure Wikimedia Commons


The aircraft has a built-in gun GSH-23. On the fuselage there are two external suspension assemblies (one specifically for hanging containers with equipment), another six are under the wing. Tejas Mk 1 is able to carry and use guided and unguided weapons to attack ground and air targets. Declared compatibility with almost all aviation samples weapons, in service with the tactical aviation of the Indian Air Force. From the point of view of armament, Tejas has no radical advantages over foreign equipment of its class.

Ambiguous future

After several decades of work, Hindustan Aeronautics Limited and related enterprises from India and other countries were able to bring their own-designed fighter to mass production and operation. Aircraft type Tejas Mk 1 built serially and delivered to the troops. By the middle of the next decade, the first order is planned to be executed, after which the Air Force will have 120 of such machines.

For a number of characteristic reasons, the Tejas fighter cannot be considered fully a modern model of its class, and it’s too early for its creators to claim world leadership. In addition, they have more important tasks. The aircraft still retains certain shortcomings that need to be addressed. Now HAL aircraft manufacturers are engaged in improving production technologies and preparing for new assembly methods, as well as developing a project for a modernized fighter.


Tests HAL Tejas as a deck plane. Photos of the Indian Navy / indiannavi.nic.in


In 2020-22, India plans to complete the development of the improved Tejas Mk 2 fighter. It will be larger than the existing one and will be able to show higher performance. In particular, they are going to bring the payload to 6,5 m. Also in the developers' plans there is a deliverance from the characteristic shortcomings of the previous project. On the basis of the aircraft Mk 2 planned to develop a double fighter for use in carrier-based aircraft.

The Tejas fighter itself in its current form can be attributed only to the fourth generation, which shows the well-known lag of the Indian aviation industry from world leaders. The aircraft being developed by the Mk 2 will also not be able to show itself as the fighter of the last fifth generation. However, even in this case, the two new projects are of particular importance to India, and this can outweigh all the flaws.

Working independently and together with foreign colleagues, Indian specialists have gained valuable experience in the development of aviation technology. In addition, a number of enterprises had to develop new materials and master new technologies for themselves. Thus, now India has not only a ready-made aircraft, but everything that is needed to create new projects. This fact is considered as a reason for optimism. Even if the existing “Tejas” was not very successful, the next plane of its own design will be able to show the desired capabilities.


Tejas Mk 1 during a demonstration flight. Photo of Wikimedia Commons


However, the impact of the current project should not be overestimated. It is also desirable to do without overly optimistic assessments. Most likely, the Indian industry, having limited capabilities, will not be able to start large-scale production of Tejas aircraft of the first and second models. As a result, the fleet of light fighters will have to be updated not only on their own, but also with the help of purchases of foreign technology.

Currently, the Indian Air Force is conducting a new tender for the purchase of imported fighters, in which several foreign companies are participating. How quickly this competition will end, and what its results will be, is unclear. However, it is clear that the search for the best deals will go along with the development of their own projects. It is possible that the serial Tejas Mk 2 will be commissioned at the same time as the foreign samples planned for purchase.

Thus, it is to be expected that their own fighter projects will not yet allow India to carry out timely and complete re-equipment of the air force. However, work on this topic will help Indian specialists to learn how to make aviation equipment, and the main results of this will manifest in the future. In the meantime, HAL and its affiliates have every right to be proud of their own Tejas Mk 1 fighter aircraft and to prepare for the release of the next machine version of the Mk 2.

On the materials of the sites:
http://tejas.gov.in/
http://hal-india.co.in/
http://airwar.ru/
http://flightglobal.com/
http://globalsecurity.org/
https://vpk.name/
http://militaryparitet.com/
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  1. kjhg 15 March 2019 07: 12 New
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    The road will be overcome by a walker They will do something of their own, buy something from others, and copy something. China at one time also began this way and, at some points, is still copying. But this is no longer critical for him. India also has every opportunity to become an aviation power, if there is enough endurance.
    1. MONTEVIDEO01 16 March 2019 15: 15 New
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      Surrealism.We supply RD-17 engines for Pakistani JF-63s, we are ready to offer Pakistan the traditional US ally the new RD-63MA with afterburner thrust of 93 kilonewtons (kN), and our traditional customers from India buy General Electric F414-GE-400 from the USA for their Tejas Mk 1.
      "The plans to develop a new, more powerful engine for the Tejas fighter are becoming a reality. The American engine designer General Electric (GE) plans to deliver the first F414INS6 engine (hereinafter F414) to be installed on the Tejas Mark II in September this year. Maximum traction force F414 98 kilonewtons (kN), which makes the Tejas Mark II faster and more manoeuvrable than the current Mark I version (which supports the GE F404-IN engine with a maximum thrust of 84 kN) .The new F414 will also provide the Tejas Naval with sufficient thrust to take off from the deck of an aircraft carrier with running start this 200 meters. "
      http://periscope2.ru/2015/07/15/8418/
      1. MONTEVIDEO01 16 March 2019 15: 17 New
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        Wrong course RD-93MA.RD-93
  2. Horse, people and soul 15 March 2019 09: 55 New
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    The Hindus do not care, no matter what plane they give them, because ...

    The main fun for Indian pilots is how to eject as soon as possible.

    The country with the largest non-combat losses of military aircraft.

  3. Pivot 15 March 2019 10: 02 New
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    Without starting to build your planes once, you will never start. Even if this is his own.
    1. LastPS April 7 2019 22: 50 New
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      This thing is better than the 21st instant - it has completed its task.
  4. Horse, people and soul 15 March 2019 10: 25 New
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    If it is impossible to defeat such a vice as corruption, then, surrendering to it entirely, you already cease to consider it a vice. (WITH)


    Just about the Indian tenders. Buying is much more profitable for cutting than doing your own.
  5. DimerVladimer 15 March 2019 10: 58 New
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    Indian aviation engineers can be congratulated on the first "pancake".
    The first step in creating your own aviation design school.

    It is relatively simple to repeat and even improve localized aircraft production or copy other people's developments, but creating your own is an order of magnitude more complex task.
    Even creating a 4th generation airplane glider is already progress, creating a large part of avionics for it and writing control programs is half the success.
    Own weapons and engine - stages that are mastered or to be mastered.
    There are a little more than a dozen countries in the world that are able to produce their own 4-generation aircraft - in general, for India this is a great success and national pride.
    1. voyaka uh 15 March 2019 11: 33 New
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      I agree. This is a great success for the Indians. At least there is something to replace everything
      old airplanes.
  6. EvilLion 15 March 2019 12: 00 New
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    There was a half hornet plane, now they make a half superstar. And what is there in its Indians? American engine and Israeli avionics?
  7. Ali Kokand 15 March 2019 16: 48 New
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    The whole world is doing this. It is very difficult to start from scratch. Hindus well done, the main thing is to create a school and grow cadres, the rest will follow. Remember the first planes of the USSR, and whose engines stood there.
    1. LastPS April 7 2019 22: 53 New
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      Yes, and not ours were not the first engines - German first reagents, then Rolls-Royce "Nin" (MiG-15).
  8. Demagogue 15 March 2019 17: 23 New
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    Quote: EvilLion
    There was a half hornet plane, now they make a half superstar. And what is there in its Indians? American engine and Israeli avionics?

    It’s bad that it’s not ours.
    And they already have their own. They developed radar with AFAR, they will put it on microns. 1, many other systems. Together with ours, they are developing long-range BB missiles for the Tejas.
  9. Sancho_SP 15 March 2019 19: 40 New
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    It is curious why ours did not master this steppe.

    A single-engine, really light fighter, we would have come in handy.
    1. LastPS April 7 2019 22: 56 New
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      Why, if there is a MiG-29, despite the fact that it somehow doesn’t come in handy, judging by the purchases.
  10. Demagogue 15 March 2019 20: 32 New
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    Quote: Sancho_SP
    It is curious why ours did not master this steppe.

    A single-engine, really light fighter, we would have come in handy.

    Our MiGs are not considered heavy enough second-class machines. And no one seriously quotes these Migari 21e. Although with reduced EPR and modern low EPR, which would not be. It is curious that the Indians, even at their instant 21, reduced the EPR coating of radar radomes with less radioactive material. Trained)
    1. Zaurbek 15 March 2019 21: 46 New
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      After the collisions of the MiG-21/23/25 with the Israeli F16 / 15, they decided to increase the thrust ratio and maneuverability. The F-16 is the most massive machine and the MiG-29 was to become a mass machine in the Warsaw Pact.
  11. Demagogue 15 March 2019 22: 44 New
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    Quote: Zaurbek
    After the collisions of the MiG-21/23/25 with the Israeli F16 / 15, they decided to increase the thrust ratio and maneuverability. The F-16 is the most massive machine and the MiG-29 was to become a mass machine in the Warsaw Pact.

    For those times, the decision was right, as the MIG-21 fighter was frankly weak, but not much better for working on the ground. But nowadays such compact machines can be effectively used for striking the ground. Why drive the Su-30 if a couple of cabs could be pulled off by Tejas? And if they bring him down, then it’s not so pathetic, and it’s cheaper to operate. And thanks to the small EPR and radar with AFAR, he can do something in aerial combat.
    1. LastPS April 8 2019 00: 48 New
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      It depends on who to fight, if the enemy is more or less serious, such a thing is unlikely to reach the target at all. As a replacement, the 21st will go. This project is important for the Indian military-industrial complex in terms of experience and no more. They managed to make a fighter superior to the Chinese-Pakistani JF-17 Thunder, this is already very good (mainly due to AFAR and not the fact that new versions of the Thunder will not be equipped with similar radars, then there will be parity). An interesting fact - the latest version of Tajas costs twice as much as the newest Thunder and this is a scribe.
  12. AAK
    AAK 16 March 2019 12: 16 New
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    Well, a slightly “mocked” “Mirage 2000” with a “fighting Falcon engine”, an ordinary Indian “Lego constructor”, but they left all programs with Russia on promising aircraft ... successes to them ..
  13. Demagogue 16 March 2019 12: 54 New
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    Quote: AAK
    Well, a slightly “mocked” “Mirage 2000” with a “fighting Falcon engine”, an ordinary Indian “Lego constructor”, but they left all programs with Russia on promising aircraft ... successes to them ..

    And they had no choice for an aircraft with one engine, except to take the Mirage layout as a basis. The Migovka scheme with an air intake around the radar fairing taxes a number of restrictions. The size of the radar is the same limits. And the F-16 they did not have at hand)))
    Well, they need a front-line fighter, and the Mirage is just like that. Yes, there is little power, it is weak in aerial combat (although it can compete with f-16, as the skirmishes of the Greeks and Turks show), but it has a good range and bomb load. Inexpensive gazelle for the cutting edge.
  14. bzonline 31 March 2019 11: 50 New
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    Some kind of article is not this or that. It seems like, and there is something to be proud of, but it seems like nothing. After completing the article, the author did not decide whether to scold or praise. The result is obvious among the Indians. The mastered technology is also evident. It turned out no better than the fifth generation? So, it has not yet been raised. Half the weight of composites says a lot.
    Russia should also think about a light single-engine fighter.