Source : Indian Defence Analysis
The declining strength of Indian Air Force squadron is the issue which both Indian Air Force as well as government is trying to solve. The Indian Air Force is pushing for additional 44 Rafales to boost its air power. The air force wants off-shelf procurement of these 44 Rafales during PM Narendra Modi’s visit to Paris this year.
However, the government is pushing for its Make-In-India initiative, boost indigenous platform and cut down the export dependency. Rafale being a foreign aircraft and a twin engine fighter jet is a costly acquisition. The government is therefor pushing for indigenous bird LCA.
This report was published in Business Today, which hints that eventually there will not be any MMRCA. In best case Air Force will go for 44 Rafales and it will happen only when government approves it.
During Aero India show as well, it was reported that as a part of mission 470, India is planning to acquire 133 Tejas Mark1A which includes the order for 83 Tejas Mark1A and additional order for 50 more Mark1A fighters.
LCA Mark1A vs Rafale
Rafale is undoubtedly better than LCA Mark1A but then the question comes is that a value for money proposition. The capex i.e., capital acquisition cost and opex that is operational cost of Rafale is far more than what is there for LCA Mark1A.
The capital acquisition funding or defence budget will remain a challenge for India as it is looking for a sustainable growth.
50 additional LCA Mark1A can very well complement for the phasing out Mig-21 and Jagaurs in future. It is way ahead in terms of capability and even best in class for 4.5th generation single engine fighter jet.
LCA Mark1A – Electronic warfare capability
If we talk about the electronic warfare capability of LCA, it is equipped with RWR, CMDS (Countermeasure dispensing systems), RWR, Software Defined Radio, VHF/UHF antenna and data link. The development of ASPJ is already in already in progress. What is missing is MAWS, but that’s not something commonly seen in a single engine aircraft.
The initial few batches of LCA Mark1A are going to be integrated with Israeli ELT AESA radar. The later version is going to be integrated with indigenously developed and more powerful Uttam AESA radar with 912 TRMs.
If we talk about the weapons of LCA Mark1A, in within visual range the aircraft will have Russian R-73E missile with the infrared homing system, Python-5 & MBDA’s ASRAAM.
In beyond visual range category, the missile to be integrated are Astra family of air-to-air missiles & I-Derby ER. In typical air-combat role, LCA can carry 2-R73E or 2 Python-5 or 4 ASRAAM missiles at its 2-outer wing pylons for WVR combat. For BVR combat, it can carry either 4 I-Derby or Astra Mark series of missiles in its 2-inner pylons next to the outer pylons.
If we talk about ground attack or long stand-off attack capabilities, LCA will be integrated with Rudram-1, Hammer, JDAM, GRIFFIN LGB, SAAW & TARA. LCA Tejas can carry at least 10 SAAW having a range of 100 km 4 on each side & 2 under its belly.
It is equipped with an 80kg high penetration Cum Blast warhead which can create huge craters on the runway. LCA-Tejas has been seen flying with Griffin Laser Guided Bomb (Griffin LGB) and Rafael’s lighting pod. Besides Griffin LGB, LCA Tejas can also carry 1000lb & 500lb GP Bombs, 450/250kg HSLD bombs. It will also be integrated with 1000kg Long Range Bomb – Gaurav with a range of 50 km to 150 km.
In, summary LCA Tejas Mark1A with a range of weapons, latest electronics & avionics, lower RCS and an AESA radar is a very potent fighter jet which can be easily used in interception as well as light attack role. The successor of Makr1A which is Mark-2 and AMCA are further going to come with additional capabilities. Undoubtedly, Rafale is a better aircraft but by the time its orders are given and delivery start, LCA Mark2 will be close to its production stage. With Mark-2 coming into production, followed by AMCA will negate the need for foreign aircrafts.
Further, funds saved could be either used to order more indigenous aircrafts and in R&D. Indigenous weapons are the way forward to become superpower.