HAL Tejas India’s first self-made fighter aircraft, single engine, delta wing, light multirole fighter designed by the Aeronautical Development Agency (ADA) in collaboration with Aircraft Research and Design Centre (ARDC) of Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL) for the Indian Air Force and Indian Navy.
It is the smallest and lightest in its class of contemporary supersonic combat aircraft. It is also one of the most composite fighter containing 45% composites (mostly carbon-epoxy) by weight contributing to its reputation as the world’s smallest light weight fighter aircraft.
The LCA programme began in the 1980s to replace India’s ageing MiG-21 fighters but later became part of a general fleet modernisation programme to become more self-reliant by reducing the country’s dependence on foreign imports for its aerial arsenal.
The Indian Armed Forces’ inventory of fixed-wing and rotary-wing military aircraft comes from a hodgepodge of 11 different foreign countries, including France, Russia, and the U.S. The most advanced of these is Dassault Rafale F3R currently India has 36. While the Sukhoi Su-30 “Flanker-H.” is the backbone of IAF India currently has 272 of these aircraft.
As stated by HAL’s official website: “Tejas is a single engined, light weight, highly agile, multi-role supersonic fighter. It has quadruplex digital fly-by-wire Flight Control System (FCS) with associated advanced flight control laws. The aircraft with delta wing is designed for ‘air combat’ and ‘offensive air support’ with ‘reconnaissance’ and ‘anti-ship’ as its secondary roles. Extensive use of advanced composites in the airframe gives a high strength to weight ratio, long fatigue life and low radar signatures. Aeronautical Development Agency is the designated project manager for the development of LCA.“
The Tejas indeed turned out to be the world’s smallest and lightest supersonic combat aircraft. The warbird is 13.2 meters in length and 4.4 meters tall, with a wingspan of 8.2 meters, and it has a maximum takeoff weight of 13.5 tons. This slim & trim fighter zips along at a max airspeed of Mach-1.6 (1,980 kilometers per hour).
Armament consists of a single GSh-23 23mm twin-barrel cannon, and eight hardpoints with a capacity of 5,300 kilograms’-worth of bombs or missiles such as the Russian R-73, Derby, domestic Astra, or the Israeli Python-5.