First indigenous fighter aircraft
The first two contemporary or fourth generation Light Combat Aircraft ‘Tejas,’ designed and built in India, joined the Indian Air Force’s squadron. The induction marked the fruition of a 33-year, nearly Rs. 8000-crore national dream to have an Indian fighter in the country’s air defence fleet.Tejas has been developed for the IAF and the Navy by the Aeronautical Development Agency (ADA) starting 1985 and produced by the public sector aircraft manufacturer, Hindustan Aeronautics Ltd, both based in Bengaluru.
HAL said it was ramping up production at its two dedicated production lines. The IAF had ordered 40 LCA in two versions and promised to buy another 80 in the upgraded Mark 1A version. The first 20 are expected by 2018-19.
Presently used fighter aircraft
The current IAF fighters are the French-origin Mirage-2000s and the Russian origin Sukhoi-30s and the aged MiGs.
The LCA was conceived in 1985 to replace the MiG-21 series.
So what exactly are the features of Tejas?
1. It can be maneuvered in any direction regardless of pure aerodynamic principles.
2. 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.
3. It has the fly-by-wire system, which means that the manual flight control has been replaced by an electronic interface which automatically maneuvers the flight, helping it stabilise, when needed.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.
4. 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 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.