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Semi-recessed belly missile bays of KF-21 Boramae

The development of India’s Twin Engine Deck-Based Fighter (TEDBF) has reached a crucial juncture as the program undergoes a series of design changes to meet the specific requirements of the Indian Navy. These changes include enhancements to the aircraft’s frontal Radar Cross Section (RCS) measures and the addition of three semi-recessed missile bays, a significant design adaptation that has not been seen in scaled models showcased till now.

The TEDBF program is closely monitored by the Naval Project Office located in Bengaluru, which was initially established to coordinate the development of the Light Combat Aircraft (Navy), or LCA (N). TEDBF, a canard delta wing, twin-engine, carrier-based, multirole combat aircraft, is being classified as a “5th generation minus” fighter by Dr. Girish S Deodhare, Director General of the Aeronautical Development Agency (ADA), which is overseeing the program.

While the Preliminary Design Review (PDR) for TEDBF was initially targeted for completion by mid-2023, it has now been pushed back to 2024 to accommodate the necessary design changes and refinements. The TEDBF program is seeking a budget allocation of 14,000 crores, which is just below the estimated 15,000 crores allocated for India’s 5th generation fighter jet program, the Advanced Medium Combat Aircraft (AMCA).

Deodhare emphasized that the TEDBF should not be considered a traditional fourth-generation fighter but rather a “generation-five minus” aircraft. This classification aligns with a terminology previously coined by the U.S. Air Force, signifying the aircraft’s advanced capabilities and design features.

As the Indian Navy seeks to bolster its carrier-based air power, the TEDBF’s evolving design ensures that it will meet the Navy’s specific operational needs and contribute to the country’s defence preparedness. With continued progress and adaptation, the TEDBF is set to become a vital asset in India’s naval aviation arsenal.

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