SOURCE: RAUNAK KUNDE / NEWS BEAT / IDRW.ORG
The Indian Air Force (IAF) had given a lukewarm response to the developers of the Twin-Engine Deck Based Fighter (TEDBF) when they mooted a proposal to develop an Air Force variant of the jet called OCRA in late 2021. The IAF is instead showing more support to the 5th-generation AMCA program since it also will be a 25-ton fighter jet.
The TEDBF concept was first showcased at Aero India 2021. The jet is designed to operate from the Indian Navy’s Short Take-off But Arrested Recovery (STOBAR) aircraft carriers, INS Vikramaditya and Indigenous Aircraft Carrier 1 (IAC 1). The TEDBF features twin engines for better short take-off performance.
The developers of the TEDBF proposed an Air Force variant of the jet called ORCA. The ORCA would have been a toned-down version of the TEDBF with a maximum take-off weight (MTOW) of 24.5 tons. The ORCA would have been customized to meet the IAF’s requirements.
However, the IAF has shown little interest in the ORCA proposal. The IAF is instead focusing on the 5th gen AMCA program. The AMCA is also a 25-ton fighter jet and is expected to enter service in the mid-2030s.
Defense Analysts Ranesh Rajan said that the IAF’s decision to focus on the AMCA program has much to do with its plans to procure more Dassault Rafale fighter jets. The IAF is currently in the process of procuring 114 jets under the Medium Multi-Role Fighter Aircraft (MMRCA) tender. The IAF is also considering procuring additional Rafale jets under the follow-on order (FOO) option.
The IAF’s decision to focus on the Rafale and AMCA programs is a setback for the developers of the TEDBF. However, the developers are still hopeful that the IAF will eventually come around to the idea of the ORCA. The developers believe that the ORCA is a cost-effective alternative to the Rafale and could supplement AMCA.
The future of the TEDBF program is certain. The Indian Navy will procure 45 jets in the first tranche and another 45 in the Second Trance. The developers of the jet are still hoping that the IAF will eventually come around to the idea of the ORCA. However, the IAF’s focus on the Rafale and AMCA programs makes it unlikely that the ORCA will be developed shortly.
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