The Indian Air Force on Friday inducted the first squadron of home-grown Light Combat Aircraft (LCA) Tejas. State-run HAL handed over the first two Tejas aircraft to IAF which will make up the ‘Flying Daggers’ 45, the name of the first squadron of the LCA.
The home-grown LCA is not very behind world class fighter aircraft and has been designed keeping every little aspect in mind, including maneuverability, ability to carry weapons, weight of the aircraft, among other things. It also has features that make it easier for the pilot to operate the aircraft.
While many have written the aircraft off, the aircraft performed phenomenally well at the Bahrain International Air Show held in February 2016. Its composites-built airframe and small size enhance its stealth features translate into a small radar signal, making it incredibly difficult to be detected.
So what exactly are the features of Tejas?
The Tejas aircraft is unique for its aerodynamically unstable tailless compound delta-wing configuration, optimised primarily for maneuverability and agility. In simple terms, this means it can be maneuvered in any direction regardless of pure aerodynamic principles.
It is designed to meet the tactical requirements of a modern air force and is a multi-role aircraft capable of comprehensive air superiority and air defence roles.
In Pictures | Tejas to be inducted in IAF
It has the fly-by-wire system, which means that the manual flight control has been replaced by an electronic interface which automatically maneuvers the flight, helping it stabilise, when needed. Signals sent by the aircraft computers are translated into actions by the aircraft itself, without the input of a pilot.
The material that Tejas is made of is chosen such that the aircraft can be of the lightest weight possible and yet strong at the same time. 45% of its airframe, including in the fuselage (doors and skins), wings (skin, spars and ribs), elevons, tailfin, rudder, air brakes and landing gear doors is made of CFC materials.
These materials also call for fewer joints or rivets, increasing the aircraft’s reliability and lowering its susceptibility to structural cracks which may be caused by fatigue.
The Tejas is also distinctive with its Glass Cockpit, which refers to a modern cockpit in which all the round dialled electro-mechanical instruments have been replaced with Multi-Function Displays (MFDs) and a Head Up Display (HUD).
A glass cockpit uses several displays driven by flight management systems, which can be adjusted to display flight information as needed. This helps in simplifying aircraft operation and navigation, thus allowing pilots to focus only on the most necessary information.
In terms of the weapons that it can carry, Tejas is designed to host a veritable plethora of air to air, air to surface, precision guided and standoff weaponry. In the air to air arena, the Tejas carries long range beyond visual range weapons.
A wide variety of air to ground munitions and an extremely accurate navigation and attack system allow it to prosecute surface targets over land or at sea with unparalleled accuracy, giving the Tejas true multi/swing role capability.
– The following specific aerodynamic features contribute to the aircraft’s excellent performance in a wider flight envelope:
– Highly optimised wing, with appropriate variation of thickness, camber and twist along the span.
– Cross-sectional area distribution along the length, adjusted for good high speed characteristics
– Leading Edge slats, scheduled for favourable aerodynamic behaviour
– Wing-shielded bifurcated air intake duct, with diverters, suitably matched with engine to avoid buzz and to minimise distortion throughout the flight envelope.
Its maximum speed is supersonic at all altitudes and it has service ceiling of 50,000 feet.
With the Tejas emerging successful, it has also prompted the Indian Navy to develop a similar carrier. It entrusted the ADA with the Design and Development of Naval Version of LCA for operation from Aircraft Carriers.
(with PTI inputs)