LCA Tejas MK1A To Take First Flight In June

(This News Is Originally Posted On The Hindu By Dinakar Peri)

Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL) expects to deliver all Light Combat Aircraft (LCA) Tejas in the Final Operational Clearance (FOC) variant to the Indian Air Force (IAF) in 2022 while the LCA Tejas MK1A, with specific enhancements, will take flight by the middle of this year, said R. Madhavan, Chief Managing Director, HAL.

“We will be attempting at least 6-8 aircraft (LCA) this year. All 10 aircraft are already ready, there are some systems to be delivered from Israel. If that happens in time, we can deliver all 10,” Mr. Madhavan told The Hindu talking of the hectic calendar HAL has for this year. “By June this year, we should start flying the LCA MK-1A configuration. Once flying starts, we have about 20 to 24 months of testing. Once that is done, we will be ready for deliveries as expected.”

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Last February the Defence Ministry had signed a ₹48,000 crore deal with HAL to supply 83 LCA MK-1A to the IAF. HAL will be delivering the first three aircraft in 2024 and 16 aircraft per year for the subsequent five years, the Defence Ministry had stated earlier.

We will start manufacturing activities parallel with the testing, Mr. Madhavan said on the LCA MK-1A schedule. With COVID-19 cases surging again, there could be some delay if the work schedule is disrupted.

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Rajesh Negi

Defence & Sports Enthusiast


  1. 20-24 months of testing while only some avionics have been changed? They are f*cking kidding! Put s.o. serious in charge of the tests then within 1-2 months and it’s over! When Dassault replaced the Rafale’s A’s GE F404 engines with the Safran M88, it didn’t took 6 months before the aircraft was fully validated with the new engines! The definitive Rafale is a totally different aircraft 85% different to the Rafale-A, it took them 3 years t create and fly the Rafale-A, and 3 years to create and fly the Rafale-B/C/M prototypes. Without Chirac winning the 1995 elections and making huge cuts in defence budget, Rafale could had been fully operational by 1996(!)

    “According to HAL Chairman and Director R Madhavan, the design activity of Tejas Mark 1A is moving ahead and the testing of subsystems will be completed by 2021. The taxi trials will commence in the first half of 2022 and the first flight of Mark 1A prototype will happen in second half of 2022” – Wikipedia
    BUT… There NEVER were prototyped for the many follow up versions of F-4, F-5, Mirage-III, Mirage-2000 as well as Rafale F2, F3 and now F4!!! You just do the mods on the test-bed aircraft, e.g. The 1991 Rafale’s prototypes are still used as testbeds, validate the mods, then field these on the production aircraft!!!

    Actually, it’s a pity that the Mk1A is made this way :
    First, billing $14 millions more per unit ($37M instead of $23M for Mk1) just to change the radar with the EL/M-2052 AESA and other few minor improvements is way too much the total avionics end as expensive as what you have aboard a Rafale while being nowhere near the Rafale’s capabilities but this ain’t the main issues:
    1.) HAL initially wanted $67 millions per unit!
    2.) Nirmala had to do a 3 years hard negotiation with HAL to obtain a more reasonable price (which is still too much for what you get), but the worst thing being that… HAL is 85% state owned! Considering that the HAL’s board is free-wheeling, let me tell you that it wouldn’t had took me 3 months of such a joke to have the HAL’s CEO fired.
    3.) Especially since anyone that watches the Tejas developments for a while knows that the Tejas main issues are lack of thrust and lack of internal fuel and HAL is coming with a Mark2 applying the same recipe as Saab with the Gripen-E or Boeing with the Super-Hornet : replace the GE F404 engine by the F414which is a F404 on steroids, then stretch the airframe to fit more fuel = make a totally new aircraft => So you can siphon more money than by improving the Mark.1 and there are two well known solutions ending even with more interesting results.
    a.) The F-16/F-15 solution : initial F100-PW-220 engines only had a 105.7kN thrust. Nowadays, you can fit the F100-PW-229 w. 129.7kN, the F110-GE-129 W. 130kN and even (only for EAU’s F-16s), the F110-GE-132 with an enormous 145kN of thrust. For sure, the more thrust you use, the more you burn fuel… F-16s and F-15s have simply been fit with conformal fuel tanks (CFT). Note that CFTs are also available for Rafale, Super-Hornet, Typhoon, Korean F-5, MiG-29SMT, even the NASA’s X-15 had CFTs while beating it crossed into space at 100km+ altitude.
    Oh, BTW, HAL has already bought 99x F414 engines for the… Mk2, in case India gets US sanctions…
    b.) F404/414 is a 4th generation engine using end 60’s technology… At best, these will allow 4 missions per 24h… Time to go for a 5th gen engine which will be as powerful as the F414 while much smaller, more reliable, allowing 6 daily missions in normal use and up to 11 in intensive use.
    F414 : L: 391cm; D: 89cm; W: 1110kg: 97.9kN; overall volume : 2.43m³; DT(dry thrust): 57.8kN; AB(afterburner)
    Menwhile, the Rafale’s M88 has different specs:
    L: 353cm; D: 69.6cm; W: 897kg: 97.9kN; overall volume : 1.34m³
    Ooopps : 1.09m³ less room is occupied, then, as less air-flow is needed, nonetheless the space freed around the engine can be used to extend internal fuel-tanks, but these can also be extended all around the air-ducts.
    M88 has already many version : the M88-4e as mounted on Rafales up to the F3R version is a cost-cutting option with only 50kN DT and 75kN AB. A 91kN AB version is available since 2009, a 73kN DT/98kN AB one is available since 2018 and was made on Indian DRDO’s request and has already been cleared/validated for use on… Tejas!!!! Note that HAL has the green light to produce M88 in India through their joint venture with Safran, and they already produced the Jaguars’ Adour engines as well as all the HAL’s helicopters’ engines in the past since Turbomeca is a Safran’s daughter company… So… Why HAL insists so much with buying US jet engines? Is there some baksheesh or embezzlement? Does some senior people at HAL get some wiretransfers on some bank account in some tax-haven?
    Then, more recently, Safran demonstrated a 100kN dry thrust only version which would be an even better choice as the engine will burn 2.5x less fuel than when using afterburner, and they reminded everyone that the M88 can be made to any AB thrust up to 115kN w.o. changing the core and deliveries can start within 18 months. Safran also demonstrated a Propfan version and can be used as a replacement for the famous CFM56 as well as for the CFM LEAP. The M88 Propfan cuts 30% of the CFM56’s fuel consumption as well as CO2 emissions (the LEAP only cuts 15%). In IAF/INAA, several aircraft are mounted with the CFM engines, or are mounted with these in other countries… These are Boeing 707 (all KC-135); Il-76/78/Beriev A-50; Boeing 737, P-8I Neptune
    => Here we already have two solutions to NOT build a Mk2 while solving Tejas’ Mk1 weak points. Note that having a 100kN dry thrust engine onboard the Mk1 would allow Mach2+ or much more payload : with less than this, the Emirati Mrage-2000-9 has a 6.8t payload for a 7800kg empty weight… A Tejas Mk1 w. a 100kN M88/DT would weight less than 6.5t empty.

    As requested by the offsets on the Rafale contracts, the Rafale Team had to propose solutions to make the Tejas really great. The Rafale-Team came with these proposal as soon as August 2017: these were leaked on a French aviation forum
    All those that have been tested/validated by DRDO will be preceded by (*)
    – (*)Thales RBE-2/AESA radar has been modified to fit in the Tejas’ nose. Now Tejas can be fit with a radar as powerful as what’s in a F-35 or F-22… Another point : the Meteor BVRAAM proprietary datalink only works radars made for the three Eurocanards, and RBE-2/AESA is the most powerful radar of these, especially since the Rafale F4 upgrade. IAF requested Tejas to use the Meteor but, oh, well, HAL wants to licence build the Israeli Elta EL/M-2052 and refuses to put the RBE-2/AESA… Is it because French companies get sued in France even if they only give a crate of Champagne to a client???

    – (*) Safran M88 engine in 73kN dry/98kN afterburner (there are even more interesting versions available now, e.g. a 100kN dry thrust one)

    – (*) SPECTRA’s active stealth as a standalone feature since the full system is too big for the Tejas’ airframe… Err, wait… The twin-seater as well as the naval version have a larger airframe, actually, the Tejas-M is a Tejas-B w.o. the rear seat/cockpit… IMHO, stop building Tejas in the single-seater version, moreover, the twin-seater and the naval version have common framing, make one less version, spare money and get the full SPECTRA suite on the fighter version and only the stealth feature on the trainer.

    – (?) OSF-IT, DDM-NG, TALIOS (2nd gen QWIP = quantum-well IRST : freaking BVR IRST)

    – Reinforcement of airframe/adding internal fuel tanks/cutting half a ton of empty weight : will allow much higher payload per weapon station as well as the airframe to take 11G.

    – BRS : ballistic recovery system : you know, when some small aircraft have a critical failure and a small rocket draws a parachute to save the aircraft. Tejas is a single engine aircraft. In case of engine/critical failure, the aircraft is lost. Moreover, even after 75 years+ of use, ejector seats are still a very dangerous sport… With BRS you save the aircraft and even may not need to eject too.

    => Thanks to Dassault’s audit on HAL’s costs of productions, they could estimate that building such a Super-Tejas Mk1 would end with a $45-46M flyaway cost. It’s more than the Tejas Mk1A BUT here you have nothing else than a single-engine version of Rafale with more bite and better performances/efficiency than any other single-engine light/medium weighted jet-fighter, also being capable to carry 1.5x its empty weight.
    Moreover, the hourly cost of a Rafale with two M88 is less than the half of the Super-Hornet with two F414, so, with a single engine, you will even end with lower cost of use than an aircraft with a single F404, and about the half of using a Gripen-E… In the end, even if more expensive to buy than the Tejas MK1A, after a few years, the Mk1 or Mk1A will end costing much more!!! Same thing with MiG-29, SU-30 : cheap to buy, expensive to use and the biggest spending with aircraft are never the purchase costs!!!

    Another rant : HAL has only created an assembly line for 8 Tejas Mk1 a year and now is doing the same for Mk1A. The Mk1 one has never delivered 8 units a year.
    On 765 jet fighters in Indian Air Force, 469 are more than 30 years old, the Jaguars were delivered in 1978-1979, everything but the Su-30, Tejas and Rafale was delivered before 1990!!!
    Is Mr. Madhavan on China or Pak payroll????
    IAF is falling apart but pay a visit to HAL at 2:30PM and see nobody working on assembly lines…
    Meanwhile, Pakistan has already built about 150 JF-17 block 1&2, China has built 150 J-20, 568 J-10, likely about 750-800 Flanker copies, etc etc…
    And in India, nobody can decide what to do to not to end under either the Talibans or the CCP rule…
    Mark my words, it might already be too late to decide smoothly, but nonetheless IAF needs 15 Super-Tejas squadrons, but also 15 Rafale squadrons and nonetheless the decisions need to be fast-tracked, but building these too!!! It’s no more deciding for assembly lines to build 2 squadrons a year as it would have been OK to decide for in 2017-2018 so deliveries could have started in 2021-2022, it’s assembly lines for 3-4 squadrons a year that are needed, and if the decisions were to be made now, with builders doing 3 shifts, deliveries will start in 2026!!!! Pak has 50 JF-17 block.3 and 36 J-10C on order and within 2 years, PLAAF received 100 J-20

    Want a good advice? Build 450-500x 1-1.8 megatons thermonuclear and build cheap Kh-55SM copies with Rafale’s skin materials while mass purchasing SCALP and Kh-101 to stuff your warheads into. In other terms,opt to start a M.A.D (mutually assured destruction) policy, switch to first use rhetoric too… Prepare dirty bombs artillery shells, cook VX, Novichok and Sarin because there is NO WAY you can deal with a ChinPak 2 fronts + naval conventional war, in other terms, unless you make ’em think you will go WMD, you’re screwed.
    Sorry but I can’t figure out a single scenario where India can prevail while staying conventional in a ChinPak scenario, and since everybody has WMDs, this would be of Biblical proportions, thanks to incompetent idiots neglecting conventional power.

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