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SOURCE: Satyajeet Kumar/ FOR MY TAKE / IDRW.ORG

DRDO for the first time has confirmed what has been long speculated for last few weeks that, Next version of India’s Indigenously developed fighter jet Tejas MK-2 will be called as Medium Combat Aircraft (MCA) and will be a 17.5 ton Beast when compared to punny LCA-Tejas MK1/MK1A Variant which currently is in production.

Super Tejas will be an evolutionary redesign of the Light Combat Aircraft which will see substantial rework on the Main fuselage which will longer to carry more internal fuel along with equipment, Rear fuselage reworked out to accommodate more powerful engine along with major redesigns to the Main, and Nose Landing Gears which will see Maximum Takeoff Weight (MTOW) of the aircraft touching 17.5 tonnes which is more then MTOW weight of Mirage-2000 fighter jet (17 ton) which it indents to replace in Indian Air Force .

Indian Air Force already has committed to place orders for more than 201 units of Tejas MK-2 whenever it enters production after 2025 and the benchmark aircraft whose performance which will be replicated will be Mirage-2000-5 .  The aircraft Originally requested by IAF for immediate purchase after Demonstration of the Superior performance of Mirage-2000 at the Kargil War in 1999.

Design

While the final design of Tejas MK-2 will be frozen in next few months most likely by end of this year. It is likely that MK-2 will retain most of the design characteristics like tail-less compound delta-wing configuration from MK-1, but might also see an addition of Canards for enhanced low-speed performance.

Previous MK-2 Data Sheet released by DRDO showed the length of MK-2 at just 13.7 m which was only 0.5 m more than the overall length of the 13.20 m of Tejas Mk-1. but now it has been speculated it will be 1 to 1.2 m in length more than Tejas Mk-1 at around 14.20 m to 14.40 m which brings it pretty close to the Mirage-2000 (14.36 m ) but still shorter then Gripen-E which has an overall length of 15.2 meters.

In addition to that, Wings span of 8.2 m and Height of 4.4 m as per older Product sheet of MK-2 was same as Mk-1 but it is likely that in new design configuration we might see slight bigger Wings span and longer Height.

It is unlikely that MK-2 will see any major radical design changes over Mk-1 but it will be foolish to call it just a lengthened derivative of the original Mk-1 design since internally it will have completely new design structure hence can be called a new aircraft.

Weight

With 17.5 tonnes of Maximum take-off weight, MK-2 is expected to have empty payload weight below 8 tonnes and with loaded weight ( with Internal fuel) around 11.5 to 12 tonnes, which will give MK-2 Weapon carrying payload capabilities of around 5.5 tonnes to Impressive 6 Tonnes.

Still, a lot will depend on how DRDO and ADA will work to ensure that the weight management of the MK-2 remains below 8 tonnes in empty configuration. since any increase in empty weight will have a direct effect on Internal fuel carrying capability and weapons payload capability which in turn will affect endurance and Operational performance.

It is most likely that IAF and ADA have already worked out a mutually agreeable General characteristics of the MK-2 configuration which includes details like Empty weight, Loaded weight, and Maximum take-off weight and things will be much clear when new MK-2 Data Sheet is released by DRDO in near future soon.

PowerPlant

General Electric is believed to have delivered around 8 F-414INS6 engine which will have a maximum power output of 98 kiloNewtons (kN) for testing purposes and also to power first batch of Pre-production MK-2 aircrafts, flow of this engines have been slowed down on India’s request while India already has placed orders for 99 F-414INS6 engine with General Electric (GE) a few years back and around 16 are being delivered fully-built while remaining 83 engines will be assembled in Bengaluru.

F-414INS6 which are based on General Electric’s F414 afterburning turbofan engine used on Boeing’s F/A-18E/F Super Hornet fighter jets which has been optimized by GE Aviation with additional safety measures for single-engine aircraft operation in Tejas MK-2. Since literally the same engine has been used on Gripen E fighter which has Maximum takeoff weight of 16.5 tonnes, MK-2 being One tonne more Heavier can still get excellent performance from its F-414INS6 engine without any drop in performance and just for reference, 17 ton Mirage-2000 is powered by SNECMA M53 afterburning turbofan engine generating 95.1 kN of Thrust.

Avionics

Tejas MK-2 will feature brand new Digital Flight control Computer along with state-of-the-art full glass cockpit which will sport Touch based two 6×8 main display with Smart MFDs and one 5×5 smart MFD displaying what a pilot would actually see in flight.

MK-2 will also come with multi-mode, solid-state phased Uttam AESA (Active electronically scanned array) radar developed by LRDE in India. Network Centric multi-frequency data links system to has been planned along with Indian-developed electronic warfare (EW) suite and a radar warning receiver (RWR).

Located just behind Pilot Seats will be An onboard oxygen-generation system designed indigenously for MK-2 to provide enhanced physiological protection to aircrew of high-speed and high-altitude fighter aircraft and help in long-endurance flights which also helps to eliminate the need to have Liquid Oxygen-based (LOX) system onboard and are limited by its storage capacity. Integrated Life Support System-On Board Oxygen Generating System (ILSS-OBOGS) produces unlimited oxygen enriched air onboard fighter aircraft for any long or complex mission.

Weapons

For MK-2 almost any weapon or Indian, Israeli, European and Russian origin can be integrated thus ensuring very high weapon flexibility just like MK1.

Previous Product Datasheet of MK-2 still featured only 8 hardpoints which were 1 beneath the port-side intake trunk for targeting pods, 3 each in the wings, and 1 in the main fuselage) but with redesigned landing gears planned for the MK-2, it is possible that the aircraft might feature additional hardpoints in its stretched fuselage.

India also has started work on development of Dual Rack Pylons to be used from Upgraded Tejas MK1-A it self and it is likely that this feature will also be carried forward to MK-2.

Multi-role Operational capabilities

Tejas MK-2 will be India’s first True multi-role fighter which will provide Indian air force with excellent tactical flexibility and will have an inherent precision strike and stand-off capability in Air to Ground operations and then can also easily switch to Air to Air Mode whenever it is required while on the same mission.

Multirole Operational capabilities will also include missions like aerial reconnaissance, forward air control, air interdiction, suppression of enemy air defense (SEAD), and close air support (CAS) operations.

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