SOURCE: MAHESHA M / FOR MY TAKE / IDRW.ORG
First Computer generated renders of India’s upcoming Twin-engine Medium Class Omni-Role Combat Aircraft (ORCA) fighter jet have been floating around the Internet and it is difficult to miss some of the unique features which have been disclosed in the renders which will all hope to see in the final design and much more when it is ready for first flight in 2026 and when it enters production in 2030.
5 of the Unique features of India’s ORCA has been listed below.
1) Diverterless supersonic inlet (DSI): ORCA will feature DSI air intakes just like seen in F-35 and J-20 fighter jet. The rounded bump of the DSI compresses and redirects the oncoming boundary lawyer airflow that otherwise causes airflow disruption in the engine. A DSI can be optimized for any Mach number and Mach 1.6 seems to be the right spot for the ORCA. Mach 1.6 speed could have been arrived at by also incorporating S-shaped duct arrangement which is known to limit high-speed flight to around Mach 1.6-2.0 based on the aircraft design and category. Medium Weight Fighter (MWF) design did not feature a DSI intake but it could be adopted in MWF too since MWF and ORCA have heavy design influence.
2) Canards: Medium Weight Fighter (MWF) was first to feature Canards and it seems ORCA will also carry forward the same close-coupled canard configuration to benefit a supersonic delta-wing design of the aircraft which will bring stability to the aircraft design. some of the other advantages of Canards are that it reduces take-off distance, can act as air-brakes while landing and also reduce wing-loading.
3) Conformal fuel tanks (CFTs): ORCA will be first to feature Conformal fuel tanks (CFTs) to reduce the aerodynamic penalty compared to external drop tanks. Two additional advantage of the using CFTs is that aircraft’s radar cross-section will see marginal improvement and it also frees up additional hard-points but some of the major disadvantages of CFTs are that it cannot be discarded in flight like drop tanks once it is empty and it also imposes slight g-load limits.
4 ) Hard-points: ORCA will have 13 Hard-points which is 2 more then what was seen in the Medium Weight Fighter (MWF) and 5 more Hard-points the what is in LCA-Tejas Mk1 and Mk1A. As seen in the above picture is the weapons load pointed and it seems to be in a Standoff Strike configuration. ORCA has Four hard-points under each wing and Four on the Fuselage and One reserved for the Targeting pod. Use of Dual-Pylons in weapon load is highly likely since the weapons load is close to 9 tonnes.
5) Folded Wings: ORCA which is primarily designed for the Indian Navy will feature folding wing configuration which helps the aircraft to occupy less space in a confined hangar of the aircraft carrier thus also reducing the footprint of the aircraft when parked on the flight deck or inside the hangar. A folding wing has some disadvantages compared to a fixed-wing. It is heavier and has more complex due to connections for electrical, fuel, aerodynamic and structural systems. In Renders, we can see both ORCA in the fixed-wing configuration for Air force and folding wing configuration fo the Navy.
Naval ORCA will be 1 tonne heavier at 24 tonnes when compared to Air force ORCA which will around 23 tonnes due to the heavier undercarriage and strengthen and raised landing gears which add 700-800kgs and another 200 kgs for folding wing system and its additional hinges. Since the final design of ORCA is yet to be frozen, renders are still off in terms of real scales but it is expected that we will see some final design of ORCA by Aero India 2021.
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