The Aeronautical Development Agency (ADA) is giving the final touches to the preliminary design of the Light Combat Aircraft (LCA) Tejas Mk-II, scheduled to be completed by the end of March. An official confirmed to Express on Saturday that the detailed design phase of LCA Mk-2 would begin in the second quarter of 2014. A separate project team from ADA and Hindustan Aeronautics Ltd (HAL), dedicated to the upgraded version, is currently undertaking daily reviews to get the first cut of the design out by next month.
The main scope of Tejas Mk-2 programme is to have the engine changed from the current GE F-404 to GE F-414. A development contract for eight engines for the preliminary design phase has already been signed with GE, with the critical design review already been completed at its Boston facility. The Mk-II fighter will have OBOGS (Onboard Oxygen Generating System), which is being developed by Defence Bioengineering and Electromedical Laboratory (DEBEL), a Bangalore-based Defence Research and Development Organisation lab. "Currently, the ground development is over for OBOGS and the systems are undergoing various stages of qualification process," an official who wished not to be named, said.
Tejas Mk-II will have a unified electronic warfare system aimed at detecting and ducking enemy radar and later jamming it. "It is likely to be the most maintenance-friendly aircraft in its class and all equipment onboard can be easily removed or re-installed smoothly. The Tejas MK-I has some scope for improving the maintenance aspects, which is being addressed in Mk-II," the official said.
Her promises to make Tejas Mk-II free from any kind of dead weight. "The Mk-I has some dead weight in the form of lead plates installed to balance the aircraft which will disappear in Mk-II. It will also have considerable amount of extra fuel capability in operational clean configuration," he added.
The point performance of Mk-II will be higher than Mk-I, which means the aircraft will have better rate of climb, transonic acceleration and turn rates. The new version will have an in-flight refueling system and the ADA-HAL combine is planning to take a new route for Mk-II production. "We are going for the DFMA (Design for Manufacturing and Assembly) technique for the production of Mk-II. The DFMA concept will be used for the first time for an Indian aviation programme, which will decrease the production time and cost, also increase the quality quotient," the official said.
With the avionics systems changing at a faster rate leading to technology obsolescence, the makers of Tejas have an uphill task of making the fighter contemporary even in the 2025s. "We will straight away get on to the production phase after the prototypes complete the required test flights. The The Indian Air Force (IAF) support is a huge factor for the Mk-2 project with some cost being shared by them. It shows the confidence the user has in us. Tejas will be the mainstay for IAF in the long run," he said.
The Mk-II project was sanctioned in 2009 at a cost about of Rs 2400 crore and post-design finalisation phase, two prototypes are set to roll out from the HAL hangars. The IAF has committed a minimum of squadrons of Tejas Mk-2.