India celebrates Induction Of LCA Tejas Into Air Force
As the indigenously developed Light Combat Aircraft (LCA) Tejas was formally inducted into the Indian Air Force (IAF) on Friday and teams of DRDO and HAL rejoiced, there were scientists and allied workers CSIR’s National Aerospace Laboratories (NAL) in Bengaluru celebrating the success as they had developed fly-by-wire technology and light weight composites for the 4th generation modern fighter.
It was CSIR-NAL which had designed, developed and certified the fly-by-wire flight control laws and algorithms for Tejas. The lab had also developed and fabricated the composite structures for the LCA Tejas, using innovative technology to keep the weight low while retaining the strength.
It goes to the credit of the CSIR-NAL that the flight test programme for Tejas has today successfully completed a total of over 2400 flights, carried out on 14 different prototypes by 17 test pilots over a continuously expanding flight envelope meeting all the requirements.
Among the little known fact is that the National Control Law (CLAW) team had implemented the autopilot modes, simulation and modeling, including wake encounter simulation and advanced parameter identification techniques for flight validation/update of the aerodynamic database leading to safe flight envelope expansion for LCA air force variants. Another notable contribution by the CSIR-NAL has been the development of aircraft 6-degree-of-freedom simulation technology which is a key requirement for Control Law development.
The composite wing development for Tejas was also undertaken by the CSIR-NAL which has pioneered the development and fabrication of composite structures for the fighter, using innovative and cost-effective fabrication technologies including co-curing and co-bonding construction.
The technology developed at CSIR-NAL not only reduces the cost but also improves the structural efficiency of the aircraft by minimising the number of mechanical joints. With this innovation, composite aircraft structures have become cost effective and structurally far superior to conventional aircraft structures. It may be noted that Tejas airframe is 45 per cent composites (mostly carbon-epoxy) by weight contributing to its reputation as the world’s smallest light weight fighter aircraft. Composites offer a very attractive option in modern aircraft development because they are lighter than metal and just as strong.
LCA has accomplished about 3200 flights, testifying the point that it is a reliable aircraft and that the LCA programme is now racing smoothly.
Action for induction of Tejas into IAF has been initiated. As of now, IAF had placed an order in 2006 for a total of 40 Tejas aircraft. Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Defence Minister Mahohar Parrikar have lauded the indigenous development of LCA Tejas.
Secretary, Department of Defence R&D and DG ADA Dr. S Christopher, said that LCA Programme has been unique in bringing together stakeholders and partners within and outside the country. HAL has been the Principal Partner, with participation and support of IAF, IN, DRDO, CSIR, CEMILAC, DGAQA, PSUs, academic institutions, private establishments, etc.â€