For the first time, India’s indigenously-made light combat aircraft Tejas will participate in an international multilateral air exercise called Exercise Desert Flag VIll, being organised in the UAE from February 27 to March 17, 2023. This is a significant development as it reflects India’s increasing efforts at showcasing indigenously build fighter aircraft on the world stage.
Importantly, An Indian Air Force contingent comprising 110 Air Warriors has already arrived at the Al Dahfra airbase of the United Arab Emirates to participate in the exercise. During this exercise, five LCA Tejas and two C-17 Globemaster III aircraft would participate, said the Indian Air Force on February 25.
Other countries who are participating in this exercise are UAE, France, Kuwait, Australia, the UK, Bahrain, Spain, the Republic of Korea, and Morocco.
“The aim of the exercise is to participate in diverse fighter engagements and learn from the best practices of various Air Forces,” said IAF.
Importantly, the government recently said that the United States, Australia, Indonesia, Argentina and Egypt and the Philippines are among the six countries which are interested in LCA Tejas. As per earlier media reports, Tejas has emerged as Malaysia’s top choice also to replace its ageing fleet of Mig-29 fighter jets. The other fighter jets, which were in the competition, were China’s JF-17 jet, South Korea’s FA-50 and Russia’s Mig-35.
Notably, LCA Tejas is a single-engine, lightweight, highly agile, multi-role supersonic fighter. It has a quadruplex digital fly-by-wire Flight Control System (FCS) with associated advanced flight control laws. The aircraft with a delta wing is designed for ‘air combat’ and ‘offensive air support’ with ‘reconnaissance’ and ‘anti-ship’ as its secondary roles. Extensive use of advanced composites in the airframe gives a high strength-to-weight ratio, long fatigue life, and low radar signatures.
Tejas is equipped with state-of-the-art features like a glass cockpit, zero-zero ejection seat, inflight refuelling probe, Jam proof AESA Radar, UEWS with SPJ, CMDS, HMDS DashV, BVR missile capability, and many more, which make the aircraft more lethal. LCA has come a long way in terms of development and is presently available in Air Force fighter & twin seater and LCA Navy fighter and twin seater.
Other variants like LCA LIFT (Lead in fighter trainer) and MK-2 are being developed for LCA Tejas. Some of the uniqueness of the aircraft is that it is one of the smallest and lightest aircraft in its class. It has an excellent flight safety record, available in all four variants to meet all customer needs, composite constituting 90 per cent by area and 45 per cent by weight. It is supersonic at all altitudes with minimalistic RCS. It is a quad-redundant fly-by-wire aircraft with a payload carrying capacity of up to 30 per cent of AUW (all up weight). Its open architecture enables customised weapon integration and is maintenance-friendly with low operating costs.