Source : Indian Defence Analysis
|Major design changes observed in Indian Navy’s upcoming indigenous Twin Engine Deck Based Fighter (TEDBF) design published by ADA at Aero India 2023|
As a part of Mission 470, India envisages to procure 470 indigenous fighter jets to boost its air power and achieve the self-reliance. The breakup of 470 fighter jets includes, 83 LCA Tejas Mark-1A and their follow-on order of 50 more for Indian air force. It also includes 108 LCA Mark2 & 126 AMCA fighter jets. Indian Navy also has planned to induct 100 TEDBF fighter jets. This sums up to 467 fighter jets.
|Indian Navy Aircraft Carrier INS Vikramaditya|
26 Multirole Carrier Borne Fighters (MRCBF) waiting nod form MoD
Multiple media reports quoting source from MoD has reported that Rafale-M is the front runner for the 26-deck based fighter jet requirement of Indian Navy. Indian navy has submitted its report of the trial evaluation of Rafale-M and FA-18 super hornet to ministry of defence. Rafale-M has been chosen over F/A-18 as it more suitable in meeting the operational criteria and requirement. Now, the ball is in the court of MoD to decide and finalize the government-to-government deal on the Navy’s requirement of deck-based fighter jet.
|French Dassault Rafale|
During the Aero India 2023, the Air Marshal Narmdeshwar Tiwari, Deputy Chief of Air Force has said that IAF is hopeful of AoN for MRFA in next 3-4 months. It is a “budgetary decision” and how fast the aircraft are available. The AoN will begin the formal procurement process following which the IAF will issue the detailed Request for Proposal.
If Indian Air Force also opts for Rafale as a part of its MRFA requirement, the combined order of Rafale will be big for Dassault and will open opportunities to make them in India with more indigenously sourced components and developing the aerospace ecosystem.
TEDBF Rollout & expected timeline
While the 26 MRCBF are being procured as a stop gap arrangement, TEDBF is going to be the future backbone of Indian Navy deck-based fighter jet. Speaking on the side-lines of Aero India, Navy Chief Adm. R. Hari Kumar said that they may get upto 45 TEDBF by 2040.
ADA is expecting funding clearance from the Cabinet Committee on Security by June 2023. Once its approved, it will take another 4-4.5 years for roll out of the first prototype, which means that the first prototype can be expected around 2028 and fighter jet can enter into production by the year 2032.
As per latest report from The New Indian Express: The Ministry of Defence is likely to clear a budget of over Rs 14,000 crore for the development of four prototypes of the twin-engine deck-based fighters.
The funding sanction will determine the timeline of the aircraft rollout.
The most component of prototype development is the iron bird. It is a ground-based setup where system integration, reliability testing, and shakedown testing of aircraft systems such as landing gear, avionics, hydraulics, and flight controls takes place. It is like an open skeleton of aircraft where the components of aircraft are arranged in almost similar layout as they will be in the final aircraft design but left accessible for ease of maintenance.
Some iron birds also include a flight deck so that testing can include pilot inputs and simulated flight profiles and can be used in pre-flight pilot training. In summary it’s a bird which cannot fly but can be used for testing many components for an aircraft on ground and without this no prototype can be developed.
ADA is in process of building new Iron Bird facility for ‘Futuristic Manned Aircrafts’ which will be used to test the flight control systems of AMCA and LCA AF MK2. As per our recent discussion with ADA, the process has reached an RFP stage. Its going to take around 2 years to setup the iron bird for LCA Mark-2.
TEDBF Design Changes observed
One of the major observations from Aero India 2023 has been change in the design of TEDBF. The earlier design of TEDBF has showcased, the unfolded wingspan of 11.2m and folded wingspan of 7.6m. As per the new specifications, the unfolded wingspan of 11.6m and folded wingspan of 8.3m. The overall wingspan has been increased by 0.4m. The new wing area of the TEDBF is going to be 53.5 sq.m.
Earlier the length of aircraft has reported to be 16.3m which has been increased to 17m in the new specifications. As per new design the height of the aircraft is going to be 5.65m.
While there has been change in the overall dimension and the new design shows that the TEDBF will be a bigger aircraft, its Maximum Take-off weight is going to be same i.e., 26Tons with external stores of 7.5 tons where it can carry weapons and drop tanks. The aircraft will have 12 hard points.
Another change observed in the specification was related to its flight altitude. The earlier specification showed the aircraft to have the altitude of 60,000 ft but the new specification states it to be 55,000 ft.
The new design seems to be much more refined design of TEDBF incorporating the features of AMCA & Rafale. Some visible changes are also noticeable in the nose cone and DSI intake which looks much better.
Other details on TEDBF
Besides, the change in specifications, few more details where shared about the TEDBF fighter jet. The aircraft will have network centric capability along with multi sensor data fusion integrated with advanced sensors like AESA Radar, IRST, Unified EW suite, and MAWS.