August 18, 2015

What are the shortcomings that have been reported in India's LCA Tejas Mk-I?

From performance shortfalls to maintenance issues, the indigenous Light Combat Aircraft (LCA) Tejas Mk-I has shortcomings that will be addressed in the LCA Mk-II version, Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar said.

In a written reply in the Lok Sabha, Parrikar said that the government has sanctioned project for development of LCA Mk-II in 2009. "Aeronautical Development Agency (ADA) is the prime agency for development of LCA Mk-II with public and private partnerships," he said.

According to Parrikar, the following shortcomings have been reported in LCA Tejas Mk-I:

> Absence of Internal Jammer affecting survivability.
> Aircraft performance shortfalls.
> Maintainability issues.

In a release, the Ministry of Defence said that the shortcomings were primarily due to following reasons:

> Internal jammer technology at that time was based on TWT amplifier which needed about 1000 ltr volume space for integration on aircraft. Hence it could not be accommodated at the time of development of LCA Tejas, Mk-I.

> The maintainability issues were raised by Indian Air Force (IAF) late in 2009, when design and drawings were already frozen for Mk-I. However, many of the safety critical maintenance issues are already addressed in Mk-I.

All the above mentioned shortcomings in LCA Mk-I have been addressed in LCA Mk-II version, the release added.

According to an ET report earlier this month, the government is seriously considering whether to hand over the project to build a new, improved version of the Tejas indigenous fighter plane to the private sector for timebound and efficient execution.

Sources told ET that discussions have taken place in the top echelons of the government on the best ways to inject urgency into the Tejas programme, possibly even with the involvement of a private sector player that would be clearly incentivised to deliver a new aircraft on time and within budget.

Should such a move fructify, it would mean a radical departure in the long-prevalent approach that only state-run firms could undertake strategic programmes of this nature.


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