By floating two separate restricted request for quotations (RFQ) on December 14 and 15 last year, the MoD-owned Hindustan Aeronautics Ltd’s (HAL) Aviation Research and Design Centre (ARDC) finally won the contest to be seated in the driver’s seat when it comes to developing the projected Tejas Mk.1A L-MRCA—83 of which are required by the Indian Air Force (IAF).
The first RFQ concerns the procurement of a suitable AESA-MMR while the second involves the procurement of an integrated EW suite comprising of a pod-mounted jammer, and internally-mounted passive sensors like radar warning receivers, laser warning system, missile approach warning system (MAWS) and the central processor.
The flotation of the RFQ now also proves that the MoD-owned Defence R & D Organisation’s Bengaluru-based Defence Avionics Research establishment (DARE) has completely failed to develop a ‘desi’ integrated EW suite despite 15 years of R & D activity. Furthermore, the RFQ flotation has also pit the final nail in the coffin of ill-informed reportage often resorted to by certain ‘desi’ bandalbaazes, such as these:
RFQ For AESA-MMR
RFQ For Integrated EW Suite
Inferences To Be Drawn
By specifying that the AESA-MMR’s operations must be synchronised with that of the integrated EW suite, HAL’s ARDC is in fact ensuring that the final bids must be presented as industrial partnerships between the OEMs of AESA-MMRs and OEMs of integrated EW suites. So, this is how the responses to the RFQs will be packaged by the OEMs.
In the case involving Israel, while Israel Aerospace Industries’ ELTA Systems subsidiary will offer the EL/M-2052 AESA-MMR and the ELL-8222WB EW pod, ELBIT Systems on the other hand will propose its ‘All-in-Small’ airborne self-protection suite EW controller that will include a digital radar warning receiver, laser warning system, the PAWS-2 MAWS, and a single digital processor.
The French offer from THALES and MBDA will include the RBE-2 AESA-MMR that will be integrated with the PAJ-FA pod, plus a digital radar warning receiver, laser warning system, the DDM-NG MAWS from MBDA, and a single digital processor.
From the US, Raytheon will offer its RACR AESA-MMR along with the ALQ-184 EW pod, ALR-69A radar warning receiver, a laser warning system and BAE Systems AAR-57 MAWS sensor.
From Spain, Indra Systems will offer its ALR-500 EW pod along with the Captor-E AESA-MMR from Airbus Defence Systems, while the Virgilius internal EW suite (derived from the Eurofighter EF-200’s ‘Praetorian integrated EW suite) will be offered by Italy’s Elettronica SPA.
In another possibility, Elettronica SPA could offer the Virgilius internal EW suite along with a pod containing elements of the Praetorian jamming suite, plus the Vixen-850e AESA-MMR from SELEX ES.
From Russia, Phazotron JSC will offer its ZHUK-AE FGA-35 AESA-MMR along with the EW pod and internal EW suite sourced from either Elettronica SPA or from RAFAEL of Israel.
Finally, Saab Avionics’ is expected to offer the Vixen 1000es ES-05 Raven AESA-MMR from SELEX ES, along with its IDAS family of radar warning receivers, MAWS and laser warning systems. As for the EW pod, RAFAEL’s Lite Shield will be proposed.
Whichever AESA-MMR is selected, it will have to be interfaced with the I-Derby BVRAAMs that have been specified by the IAF for the Tejas Mk.1A L-MRCA. At least three flying prototypes of the Tejas Mk.1A will be involved in the airworthiness certification programme, involving close to 400 test-flights to be conducted between late 2018 and late 2020.
However, the absence of an on-board IRST sensor will ensure that the Tejas Mk.1A L-MRCA remains a sub-optimal solution in the dissimilar air combat arena.