LCA Tejas to be Ready for Aerial Refuelling Soon
India's indigenously manufactured Light Combat Aircraft, Tejas, will soon get another shot in the arm as the multi-role combat fighter is suiting up for air-to-air refuelling. Dr. Girish S Deodhare, Director, Aeronautical Development Agency (ADA), has said that the LCA Tejas will be capable of aerial refuelling by March. "We have been carrying out various tests regarding air-to-air refuelling of Tejas for the past few months, and have been successful. But, the process is a challenging one, and hence, we are working on it to perfect it. The trials will begin soon and we expect to make Tejas ready for air-to-air refuelling within 2 months," he said.
Earlier, it has been announced that Tejas, which is designed by ADA and manufactured by Hindustan Aeronautics Ltd., is undergoing the integration of aerial refuelling probe. The technical part has been completed and the trials have been commenced on the ground. "Currently we are focusing on the on-ground refuelling of the fighter through simulations. All the ground tests have been successfully completed as Tejas was refuelled by placing it at various altitudes and angles. This was to monitor the pressure at which the fuel is pumped into the aircraft. On air the refuelling has to be done without taking much time. We are very much careful about even minute things that have to be considered during aerial refuelling. The rest will be taken care of once the trials starts, added Dr. Deodhare.
Aerial refuelling is one of the key parameters HAL-ADA combine need to fulfil, ahead of the Final Operational Clearance. The work share for aerial refuelling programme has been split between HAL, ADA, Aircraft Research and Design Centre (ARDC), Tata Advanced System Laboratories (TASL) and LCA Tejas Division. ADA is the programme agency responsible for production, structural design and software. The integration of air-to-air refuelling has been regarded as essential to give the Tejas enough reach. Once the Tejas achieves the operational aerial refuelling capability, it will help the fighter to extend its flight duration without carrying external fuel pods, which at can consume the space of weapon stations.
Dr. Deodhare has also said the LCA Tejas Mark 1-A is expected to get the Final Operation Clearance by July 2018. Talking about the naval version of Tejas, Deodhare has said that the fighter has mastered the take-off from a naval carrier. "But, the arrested landing part is yet to be perfect. Currently, we are working on that, and hope to complete it by the end of this year. ADA has also received the approval to prove unmanned technologies on LCA, including auto take-off and landing, for futuristic purpose.
Talking about the LCA Mark II, Deodhare has said that ADA is creating a production friendly design for the aircraft. "It is design for manufacturing that will make it much easy to manufacture and maintain. Our designers are leveraging on the experience they got from the previous versions of LCA. Now, designers know more about production part and hence, it will be easy for them to design it production-friendly. The Mark II will have upgraded weapons system along with all sensors, and will be capable to carry all futuristic indigenous weapons," added Deodhare.