Combat Aircraft Programmes at ADA

Aeronautical Development Agency (ADA) is the premier design house in the country handling multiple fighter aircraft development programmes. The ADA was established in the mid-1980s as a nodal organisation for combat aircraft development, since when it has synergised and developed strategic capabilities in various disciplines with identified partners for realising a range of advanced technologies and final products for users. Tejas LCA is the premier programme undertaken by ADA having achieved Full Operational Clearance in February 2019. The LCA Mk.I has been inducted in IOC configuration into the IAF, with the first squadron (No.45 Flying Daggers) formed at Sulur in Tamil Nadu. The Light Combat Aircraft is powered a single engine, has compound delta wing, relaxed static stability and advanced digital fly-by-wire control system, making it an agile war machine being the smallest multirole all-weather supersonic fighter in its class. The fly-by-wire flight control system enables excellent handling qualities, making it a pilot`s delight. Its advanced glass cockpit enhances situational awareness and aids the pilot for decision support in all missions.

The aircraft is equipped with computerised utility management system and Health & usage monitoring system for eases of maintenance. The LCA Navy Mk.I programme has completed more than 300 flights including 43 day and 2 night ski-ramp launches and 27 day and 1 night arrested landings at the SBTF. Carrier Integration has been proven with successful operations from the flight deck of INS Vikramaditya, a total of 18 arrested landings and 18 ski-ramp take offs carried out from INS Vikramaditya in 5 days.

The LCA Navy Mark 2 is planned to be a single engine fighter with higher thrust engine, increased internal fuel and improved weapon carrying capability, with enhanced mission performance and better maintainability. However, as per requirement of the Indian Navy, this programme will be converted to being a twin engine deck based fighter (TEDBF), and studies have been initiated at the ADA. The Tejas Mk.II for the Air Force was initially planned to have a higher thrust engine. However, in its new configuration it is no more a light combat aircraft but will be a Medium Weight Fighter (MWF).

This evolution of the MWF began with the IAF projecting a platform to replace the Mirage 2000, Jaguar and MiG-29 in the 2030s. The IAF wanted a multi-role fighter with improved range, endurance, lethality and increased payload carrying capacity. Based on these requirements, configuration optimisation studies were initiated by ADA in November 2016, a configuration with improved performance and increased internal fuel has this evolved. Subsequently, the IAF also indicated their requirement for integrating heavier standoff weapons. The final configuration was agreed to in September 2018 to meet these capabilities.


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Nitin Konde is a freelance journalist with an experience of more than a decade. Being a freelancer, he has covered various domains in his field such as Sports, Biotechnology, Defence etc. and has been associated with brands like The Times of India, Vayu Aerospace and Defence Review Magazines. Since the last three years he has been focusing and writing extensively on the defence sector, he is here to share his expertise with our readers on AviatorsBuzz.