An aircraft that you can trace back as far as the 1980s, this fighter jet has gone through a lot. In this article, we will be giving you details about India’s HAL Tejas fighter jet.
1. LCA PROGRAM
In 1983, the Indian Air Force (IAF) realized the need for a new combat aircraft to replace their aging MiG-21. This jet has been in service since 1970 and was expected to retire in the mid-1990s. The HAL Tejas, referred to as the fighter jet LCA back then, was created under IAF’s Light Combat Aircraft (LCA) program to advance India’s domestic aerospace industry.
On January 4, 2001, this single-engine, delta wing, multirole lightweight fighter jet took its first flight. In 2003, it got a new name, the HAL Tejas. For a quick trivia, the “HAL” pertains to the aircraft’s designer Hindustan Aeronautics Limited, and the “Tejas” means radiance in Sanskrit.
2. AIRCRAFT SPECIFICATIONS
This time, let’s take a look at the specifications of the HAL Tejas fighter jet. For starters, this 4.5 generation aircraft costs 39 million USD per unit with a gross weight of 9,500 kg that includes an armament weight with a total capacity of 4,000 kg external fuel and ordinance. It can also reach a maximum speed of Mach 1.6 and has a combat radius of 300 km.
During the aircraft’s development, the Indian Government has set goals to include three advanced and challenging systems for the HAL Tejas fighter Jet. The first one is its fly-by-wire system. According to thecompares.net, it is a four-channel digital flight control system that gives artificial stability to the plane while flying.
Another feature is its deadly multi-mode radar system. According to crewdaily.com, the HAL Tejas uses an Israel-made ELTA M-2032 Hybrid Pulse-doppler radar system, which allows the aircraft to track ten targets at the moment and engage them. Furthermore, it is equipped with its state-of-the-art General Electric GE F404-IN20 series turbofan engine capable of creating a dry thrust of 11,250 lb/ft with an after-burner thrust of 19,000 lb/ft, which is responsible for this aircraft’s impressive speed.
3. AIRCRAFT PRODUCTION
With the HAL Tejas’s 20th anniversary of its first flight this year, an article written by Pradip Sagar for THEWEEK magazine reported on the plans for this aircraft. Pradip wrote that the projected production for this aircraft is around 28 units per year to match the order of 84 fighter jets by 2023.
4. AIRCRAFT COMPARISON
The HAL Tejas has continuously been compared to Pakistan’s JF-17 thunder. According to globaldefensecorp.com, the only notable differences between the two are the missile types they use, with the JF-17’s SD-10A missile edging the Tejas’ “Derby” missile performance-wise.
Moreover, the most significant advantage HAL Tejas has on the current JF-17 is from its power source. Overall, HAL Tejas’ engine is better than JF-17’s in reliability, fuel consumption, and thrust.
5. AIRCRAFT DEVELOPMENTS
However, this advantage didn’t come easy for this aircraft. Going back to the article from THEWEEK, India’s Chief of Defense Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) stated that this aircraft’s success took three decades of struggle. This included shortcomings such as the lack of tandem-seated variants, electronic warfare capabilities, and their missile approach warning system. These problems will be addressed in HAL Tejas Mark 2 that will start in the year 2025.
Moreover, this fighter jet is capable of a stealth configuration. Due to the carbon fiber and titanium, aluminum, and lithium-based alloys used in the HAL Tejas manufacturing, it allowed it to reflect or minimize incoming waves of enemy radar. Overall, the aircraft is fantastic with its features that match up with other aircraft.
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