Vendor selection by the Bengaluru-based Aeronautical Development Agency (ADA) in consultation with the Indian Air Force (IAF) for supplying various critical sub-systems of imported origin for the Tejas Mk2 multi-role combat aircraft (MRCA), which has been delayed by almost one-and-a-half years, is now expected to be concluded by next March. By then, the IAF would recommend the foreign vendor for supplying the integrated fire-control system (including an infra-red search-and-track sensor, or IRST, integrated with an AESA-based multi-mode radar, or MMR), and a frameless canopy actuation system.
The IAF’s favourite choice is believed to be the Vixen850E AESA-based MMR integrated with the 55kg Skyward nose-mounted IRST, both of which have been developed by the UK-based Selex Galileo subsidiary of the Italy-based Finmeccanica Group, and is being promoted in India by Data Patterns Pvt Ltd. The Vixen 850e features an innovative roll-repositionable AESA antenna to provide a full +/-100-degree field-of-regard, which allows the aircraft to turn away after a BVRAAM launch, whilst still maintaining data-linking with the BVRAAM. Choice of the optimum combination of air combat missiles (both within-visual-range and beyond-visual-range) will be totally dependent on which fire-control system is finally selected, with the principal contenders being Raytheon and MBDA (AIM-132 ASRAAM/AIM-120C AMRAAM), RAFAEL of Israel (Python-5/Derby), MBDA (MICA family) and Russia’s Vympel JSC (RVV-MD/RVV-SD combination), which IAI/ELTA Systems will likely propose in case the Python-5/Derby solution is rejected by the IAF.
The principal lightweight PGM destined for the Tejas Mk2 (as well as for the Rafale M-MRCA and Mirage 2000UPG) is likely to be the AASM Hammer modular air-to-ground weapon built by France’s SAGEM Défense Sécurité. France’s defence procurement agency DGA on May 31 successfully carried out the first qualification test-firing of the laser terminal guidance version of the Hammer at the Cazaux air base from a Rafale M-MRCA. The target, a bridge pier located more than 50km from the release point, was illuminated by an airborne illuminator that was activated during the last few seconds of the PGM’s flight. The AASM Hammer’s guidance was deliberately initialised by offsetting the target’s GPS coordinates by over 50 metres. Thanks to its navigation, laser spot detection and terminal guidance algorithms, the AASM hit its target to within a metre. Prior to the impact, the PGM steered itself to a glide slope of 20 degrees, preferred for this type of operational scenario. The AASM Hammer is a family of air-to-ground PGMs comprising guidance and range augmentation kits attached to standard bombs. The GPS/inertial/laser guidance version, designated SBU-64 Hammer, joins the AASM range which already includes two other versions qualified for deployment by the Rafale: GPS/inertial and GPS/inertial/infra-red versions. The SBU-64 features a semi-active laser seeker in place of the infra-red imager, plus dedicated algorithms that are activated during the terminal phase. This version of the AASM can be used to attack moving targets.
Both the IAF and Indian Navy have also recommended that the projected cockpit of the Tejas Mk2 should offer a range of new and enhanced features such as a centric, modular concept of operation, enabling pilots to control and personalise the displays, applications and information sources. The IAF is believed to have zeroed in earlier this year on the CockpitNG option, which was originally developed by ELBIT Systems for the global F-16 upgrade market, and can be easily sourced from HALBIT Avionics Pvt Ltd, the joint venture between ELBIT Systems and the MoD-owned Hindustan Aeronautics Ltd (HAL). For the CockpitNG, an advanced display fusion engine has been developed, allowing information to be fused in multiple layers, yet displayed in one place. The new capabilities provide pilots with enhanced situational awareness and mission management, reduce pilot workload and support successful achievement of mission goals in all weather conditions. The CockpitNG, which is being shown for the very first time at the Farnborough International Airshow (FIA-2012), comprises a large area panoramic display (LAD), a low-profile head-up display (LPHUD) and the Targo helmet-mounted display/cueing system. New applications are projected on all elements of the CockpitNG, displaying all relevant data while hiding the irrelevant information to prevent overload. The LAD touch-screen offers a unique concept of operation, enabling pilots to personalise their displays, applications and information with a sweep of the finger, according to specific mission requirements. The cutting-edge 3-D map concept of operation, centered in large size, projects a 3-D image of the world, viewing fused information from own-ship sensors and data-link members’ sensors. The projection of fused synthetic and real-time pictures, videos, sensors and information makes any mission possible and supports successful achievement of enhanced mission goals in all weather conditions.
The 22-inch LAD with HD resolution, is a new-generation avionics display system designed to replace all conventional flight instruments and AMLCD screens, thus creating a full glass-cockpit. The display combines sensor fusion with a decision support system, in order to present all relevant information in a format that facilitates the pilot's missions. The LPHUD is designed as a combined solution for cockpits containing a large-area display due to its streamlined size and shape that requires less space than typical HUD designs. Providing sizeable enhancements for resolution, brightness, accuracy, reliability and maintainability compared to current-generation HUDs, the LPHUD employs digital display technology (LCD-raster display) and provides capability for video processing and image display functions, digital video interfaces, analogue deflection interfaces and sensor display fusion growth provisions. The TARGO HMD will deliver all mission-critical avionics and advanced applications directly to the helmet. Augmented reality will; be achieved by a combination of real-time videos and synthetic data projected on the visor, thereby enhancing pilot situational awareness and increasing operational success rates. When installed on board the Tejas Mk2, the CockpitNG along with its LAD and LPHUD, plus the OSAMC and the processor-cum management LRU will collectively offer significant weight-savings and at the same time make available additional internal volume for accommodating additionally mandated avionics like the IRST sensor, and the open-architecture and integrated defensive avionics suite, or IDAS.
What has already been confirmed thus far is that the two-way airborne operational data-links (ODL) will be supplied by HAL, which, among other systems, will also be supplying the OSAMC mission computer (to cater to the increased processing requirements of the new fire-control system, stores management functions, and a new-design glass-cockpit), the RAM-1701AS radio altimeter, TACAN-2901AJ and DME-2950A tactical air navigation system combined with the ANS-1100A VOL/ILS marker, CIT-4000A Mk12 IFF transponder, COM-1150A UHF standby comms radio, UHF SATCOM transceiver, and the SDR-2010 SoftNET four-channel software-defined radio (working in VHF/UHF and L-band for voice and data communications), and the Bheem-EU brake control/engine/electrical monitoring system, all of which have been developed in-house by the Hyderabad-based Strategic Electronics R & D Centre of HAL. SAGEM Défense Sécurité will supply the Sigma-95N ring laser gyro-based inertial navigation system coupled to a GPS receiver (which is also on board the Su-30MKI and Tejas Mk1). The IDAS, which has been under joint development by the DRDO’s Bengaluru-based Defence Avionics Research Establishment (DARE) and Germany-based Cassidian since 2006, will include the multi-spectral AAR-60(V)2 MILDS-F missile approach warning system, the Tarang Mk3 radar warning receiver (built by Bharat Electronics Ltd), the open-architecture EW processor-cum management LRU, countermeasures dispenser built by Bharat Dynamics Ltd, and Elettronica of Italy’s Virgilius suite that makes use of ELT-568 directional jammers (now being installed on the IAF’s MiG-29UPGs), which make use of active phased-array transmitters for jamming hostile low-band (E-G) and high-band (G-J) emitters. The redesigned digital flight-control computer will be built by BEL.
For tactical strike missions, the Tejas Mk2 will be equipped with the Litening-3 LDP, supplied by RAFAEL Advanced Defence Systems of Israel. The actuated retractable aerial refuelling probe, mounted on the Tejas Mk2’s starboard cockpit section, will be supplied by UK-based Cobham Mission Equipment. The same vendor will also supply the pneumatic air-to-ground stores ejection systems like release units, practice bomb carriers, multiple stores carriers, AGML-3 triple-rail launchers, and high-velocity ejection launchers, almost all of which are already operational on the IAF’s fleet of BAE Systems Hawk Mk132 lead-in fighter trainers. Cobham will thus join a growing list of foreign vendors associated with both the Tejas Mk1 and Mk2, which include Intertechnique SA, SAFRAN Group’s SAGEM Défense Sécurité subsidiary and IN-LHC ZODIAC of France; US-based GE Aero Engines, Hamilton Sunstrand, EATON Aerospace, MOOG, and Goodrich Aerospace; UK-based CHELTON Avionics, Penny + Giles, and Martin Baker (supplier of Mk 16LG zero-zero ejection seats); Italy’s Secondo Mona; and Germany’s Cassidian and Faure Herman. Indian companies involved include HAL, TAML, Data Patterns Pvt Ltd, Government Tool Room and Training Centre (GT & TC), and SLN Technologies Pvt Ltd.
The Tejas Mk2 will have a length of 0.7 metres more than that of the Tejas Mk1 for incorporating a stretched nose section and a modified fuselage section aft of the cockpit for housing an expanded complement of mission avionics LRUs), height of 4.6 metres (as opposed to 4.4 metres of the Tejas Mk1) to accommodate an enlarged vertical tail-section, and a wingspan of 8.2 metres—same as that of the Tejas Mk1—that, however, will feature an increased wing area. External stores capacity will be boosted to 5,000kg (as opposed to 3,500kg for the Tejas Mk1), while the twin internal air-intake ducts will be enlarged to cater to the increased airflow requirements of the 98kN thrust F414-GE-INS6 turbofan built by GE Aero Engines. India’s Ministry of Defence has sanctioned US$542.44 million (Rs2,431.55-crore) for ADA to develop the IAF’s Tejas Mk2 variant and the Indian Navy’s LCA Mk2 (Navy) variant so that the first Tejas Mk2 prototype can roll out by September 2013 and fly by December 2014, following which HAL would begin series-producing the MRCA by 2016. While the IAF is committed to procuring an initial 83 Tejas Mk2s, the Navy has expressed its firm requirement for 46 LCA Mk2 (Navy).
Just like the Tejas Mk1, the airframe of the Tejas Mk2 will incorporate 13 major composites-built structures fabricated by TATA Advanced Materials Ltd (TAML), which was awarded the contract after the state-owned National Aerospace Laboratory (NAL) expressed its failure to deliver the structures on time. Structures to be produced by TAML for each aircraft will include a rudder assembly, fin assembly, 60 carbon-fibre reinforced (CFC) wing spars, 38 wing fuselage fairing skins, 20 wing fuselage fairing blocks, 41 CFC centre fuselage components, two forward undercarriage doors and two aft undercarriage doors.