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Tejas Gets More Sophisticated

By Ajai Shukla
March 01, 2024 14:04 IST
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The Mark-1A will be more sophisticated and capable than the Tejas Mark-1.

IMAGE: The Tejas Mark-1A's successful maiden flight, February 19, 2024. Photograph: Spokesperson MoD/X

In 1993, when development work began on the Tejas Mark-1, the Bengaluru-based Aeronautical Development Agency (ADA) -- the Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) laboratory set up to oversee the Tejas light combat aircraft (LCA) project -- took on the challenge of making the new fighter highly manoeuvrable and safe.

These conflicting features were achieved through world-class avionics that combined an unstable design (which continuously tended to throw the aircraft out of the sky); with a quadruplex fly-by-wire flight computer that continuously stabilised the fighter.

The skills that went into this sophisticated design had been cultivated since the early 1960s when Hindustan Aeronautics Ltd (HAL) designed and built the HF-24 Marut fighter bomber.

On February 19, this avionics design capability was taken a step further.

In a significant step forward for the Tejas Mark-1A programme, a new 'Digital Fly by Wire Flight Control Computer' (DFCC) was integrated and test flown by ADA on a Tejas LCA prototype.

On February 20, the defence ministry announced that the 'DFCC has been indigenously developed by ADA for the Tejas Mark-1A.'

The Indian Air Force is buying no more than 40 Tejas Mark-1 fighters.

After that, it will buy 83 Tejas Mark-1A fighters, for which it signed a contract with HAL in 2021.

The Mark-1A will be more sophisticated and capable than the Tejas Mark-1.

The former is being fitted with a highly capable active electronically scanned array (AESA) radar, an electronic warfare suite with an on-board jammer, a Combined Interrogator and Transponder and a digital map generator that carries the complete digital map data of South Asia.

The Mark-1A will also carry the Advanced Short Range Air-to-Air Missile (ASRAAM).

With a range of 60-70 kilometres, the IAF bought the ASRAAM from MBDA UK, for upgrading its Jaguar fighters.

Now each Tejas Mark-1A will carry two ASRAAMs on its outboard stations.

Integrating these weapons and avionics onto the Tejas Mark-1A requires a more powerful and capable mission computer, with connections that can connect the new digital world with the older Tejas fighter's analogue ports and cabling.

This will be the function of the DFCC. The defence ministry says the new DFCC will feature a Quadraplex Power PC-based processor, high-speed autonomous state machine-based I/O controller, enhanced computational throughput and complex on-board software complied with DO178C level-A safety requirements.

Feature Presentation: Aslam Hunani/

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Ajai Shukla
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