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SOURCE: IDRW NEWS NETWORK

India’s Aeronautical Development Agency (ADA) has said it will reveal first Tejas AF Mk 2 fighter jet on 75th Independence day of India in 2022 and aircraft is likely to carry out its first flight by late 2022 or early 2023. Tejas AF Mk 2 was sanctioned in 2009 initially for using Mk1 air frame to be powered by a larger GE-F414IN engine resulting in more thrust offering more take-off weight which results in additional payload capacity.

Current Medium Weight Fighter (MWF) model revealed at Aero India 2019 while it still carries Tejas AF Mk 2 designation due to earlier Government clearance but MWF is an enhanced version of the baseline Tejas Mk1 air frame, with heavy modifications to its design and air frame and not also will have a slightly longer length, bigger wingspan, enhanced payload-carrying capabilities, which Senior Retired IAF officials, idrw.org spoke to say will make it almost complete clean slate aircraft which will have a developmental cycle of 5-7 years and will be difficult to enter into production by 2025-26 as disclosed by ADA.

idrw.org also spoke to former HAL Test Pilots, who is also skeptics of the timeline mentioned by ADA, since MWF has a compound delta wing with close-coupled canards to help reduce drag in almost all angles of attack, complex programs have to be written before all angles of attack is expanded slowly over several flight test profiles which can be time consuming warned former Test Pilot.

ADA says that design of MWF was frozen in 2018 and previous close-coupled canard work on Mk1 has helped Engineers and designers collect a lot of Research data before and same has been applied after numerous computer-aided simulations have taken place on current MWF design which shows that aircraft will not require stringent flight testing as required previously. Metal cutting work for First pre-production aircraft MWF will start soon and HAL already has been ordering ground tools required for the development of the aircraft from the vendors as per tender documents which have been accessed by idrw.org.

idrw.org has been informed that at least three pre-production aircraft MWF aircraft will be developed in next few years by ADA which will be exclusively used to fast rack its developmental circle so that it is ready for production by 2025-26. When asked about the complex and time-consuming testing of close-coupled canards and its software certification, idrw.org was informed that in phases, additional capabilities will be made available and ADA has finalized all of the software development before conducting flight trials, so that capabilities are added in phases and the whole spectrum is tested and bugged out before it enters production.

MWF will not have TD (Technology Demonstrators ) or Prototype aircraft but will have pre-production aircraft which will be IOC standard equipment from the start and more pieces of equipment related to Final Operational Certification (FOC) standard will be added and tested before it is cleared for large scale production but limited Serial production of the aircraft will be underway even before FOC is granted which will reduce developmental circle.

ADA already has received dozen-plus GE-F414IN engines from 2017 onwards for the program and these engines are been regularly tested and serviced by GE trained staff and GE will also be closely involved in installation and integration of this engines in first pre-production aircraft. Development of AESAR Active electronically scanned array (AESA) radar, infrared search and track, additional avionics and oxygen system, electronic warfare suite, extensive sensor suite, Next-generation display cockpit, and flight test instrumentation are already in development and will be ready by 2020-21 for integration.

ADA will not follow the earlier set of flight test method adapted when LCA-Tejas Mk1 was in development, the goal now is to get more out of each flight test hour and carry out multiple trials of equipment to reduce flight regime which was previously followed. LCA-Tejas Mk1 flight regime was slow and painful due to fear of accidents and crashes which had the potential of closing down of the whole program and lack of experience in testing a brand new aircraft also didn’t help and a whole set of methods had to be developed which was perfected by trial by fire by ADA and HAL. duplication, meaningless flight tests, and clueless engineers were quite common in initial years of the program, instead of accelerating the program after the arrival of the TD and Prototype aircraft, the program slowed down and both had to learn from their mistakes and fast adapt which often were time-consuming.

When MWF enters flight test regime, the evaluation team will be tasked to achieve major milestones for the program quite early which will include attaining supersonic flight, achieve flights maneuvering targets, testing of the carefree-handling of the flight control system and commence load tests. Testing of the onboard equipment will begin pretty much soon their after and any integration teething issues or bugs will be sorted out before it enters the weapon testing stage.

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