Medium Combat Fighter (MCF) aka Tejas Mk2 which was showcased earlier this year at Aero India 2019 for the first time will come with a host of new improvements before it enters production said Industrial sources close to, as the final Air Staff Requirements is yet to finalized. Aeronautical Development Agency (ADA) which is the nodal design agency for the program is working on additional capabilities which were not disclosed at Aero India but will be gradually added once flight development commences.

MCF model featured a fixed in-flight refueling probe at Aero India 2019, but work is in progress to find a suitable vendor to develop a retractable in-flight refueling probe is in a cavity on the right side of the forward fuselage section which will feature in the production variant. ADA is also working on the addition of Conformal fuel tanks (CFTs) fitted closely to the profile of an aircraft near its spine so that external pylons on wings don’t need to carry additional external tanks which also free up pylons for an extra ordinance. Two CFTs will able to carry 1000 liters of additional fuel each which will boost the range of MCF by 20-25%.

Built-in CFTs will be detachable on the ground in less than 2 hours but can’t be jettisoned like drop tanks. ADA is still studying the drag effects on MCF due to CFTs but it is unlikely works on scale developmental model might not take place anytime soon.

A diverterless supersonic inlet (DSI) type of jet engine air intake used by some modern combat aircraft to control air flow into their engines was proposed for MCF but was rejected due to no additional improvement in performance over traditional inlets as seen in MCF model at Aero India 2019 but will have shaped ducts to hide highly reflective engine faces from radars, which will not make it a Stealth aircraft but can operate at contested airspace. Some of the other improvements will be Dual-rack Pylons for the additional ordinance, supersonic fuel tanks, Advance Cockpit, indigenously developed AESA Radar, EW suite, OBOGS, MAWS, and IRST.

MCF which is a 4.5 generation Medium Category fighter jet with 17.5 tones of Maximum Takeoff Weight will be replacing Mig-29UPG and Mirage-2000H fighter fleet from IAF and will be Backbone in Mid-tier for the Indian air force fighter fleet supported by TejasMk1/Mk1A in the lower tier and AMCA and Su-30 at High-tier and complimented by Dassault Rafale in same segment. the first flight of MCF has been planned for 2023.

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