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The Light Combat Aircraft (LCA) Tejas program recently unveiled the Mk1A variant sporting a significant upgrade to its air intake system.

The most noticeable change in the Mk1A lies in its Auxiliary Air Intake Doors (AAID). Earlier versions, the Mk1, featured a single-door design. The Mk1A adopts a novel 3-door configuration, marking a significant shift in approach. The impetus for this change stemmed from extensive performance studies focused on a newly proposed 3-door auxiliary intake. These studies aimed to achieve two crucial objectives of the Enhanced Low-Speed Performance to improve pressure recovery at low speeds, a factor crucial for optimal engine performance during takeoff and landing.

Equally important was ensuring minimal impact on “spillage drag” at high speeds. Spillage drag occurs when excess air bypasses the engine inlet, leading to reduced efficiency.

The initial exploration of lip geometry and variable contraction ratios within the 3-door design yielded marginal improvements in low-speed regimes. However, these modifications came at a cost – they adversely affected high-speed performance.

The solution came through cowl geometry optimization. This approach demonstrably improved pressure recovery by positively influencing the airflow near the engine inlet. The 3-door design further amplified these gains in pressure recovery.

The combined effect of optimized cowl geometry and the 3-door AAID system is expected to deliver a significant 3% improvement in pressure recovery. This translates to an equivalent boost in engine performance, enhancing the overall capability of the LCA Tejas Mk1A.

The 3-door design was first seen incorporated into the LCA Navy Mk1 prototypes, This upgrade represents a critical step forward in optimizing the LCA’s performance and solidifying its position as a formidable combat aircraft.

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