The Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) is gearing up to cut the important content onboard Tejas in an effort to erase the tag that India’s home-grown fighter flies on some videshi might.
This again is in line with the oft-repeated ‘make-in-India’ philosophy of Defence Minister A K Antony. While the IOC-2 will be definitely a breather for DRDO and its autonomous wing ADA, the defence scientists are now channelising their energies in developing more indigenous components for Tejas.
DRDO’s most prominent voice Dr K Tamil Mani, Director-General (Aeronautical Systems), said his organisation is working parallel to get a few Indian weapons integrated on Tejas.
“Though to integrate Indian weapons is not a planned test point for the final operational clearance (FOC) of Tejas, we have started working on it for some time now. The Astra missile integration with an improvised range of 80-plus km (currently 40-45 km) is the next big challenge. We have also planned some PGMs (precision-guided munitions) for Tejas, including glide bombs and GPS-guided bombs,” Mani said.
“We want to take up the Indian weapon integration as a parallel programme, which is progressing as per our plan. In military aviation, the modern thought process is to share the strength. No country makes every component all alone in a fighter plane. So to say that Tejas is not 100 per cent Indian, doesn’t hold any ground. We want to take the indigenous content in Tejas to 80 per cent from the current 60 per cent. It is an achievable target and we have the strength,” he said.
An onboard oxygen generating system (OBOGS) is also in the pipeline for Tejas. The OBOGS development work is being undertaken by the Bangalore-based DRDO life sciences lab Defence Bioengineering andElectromedical Laboratory.
“The OBOGS enables the pilots to fly at high altitudes and on long duration sorties without the help of oxygen cylinders. We are also planning to get an Indian company to supply the tyres for Tejas, which currently runs on Dunlop,” Mani explained.
The engine (GE F 404), ejection seat (Martin Baker), missile (R 73 E) and the multi-mode radar (Elta) are among the prominent import content onboard Tejas now.