Daily News Analysis

Light Combat Helicopters

13th July, 2021 Security and Defence

Context:

  • Hindustan Aeronautics Limited's indigenously developed Light Combat Helicopter deployed for operations in Leh.
  • These are part of 15 Limited Series Production helicopters approved for Army and IAF.
  • It will see a greater collaboration between state-owned Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL) and private firms as part of ‘Make in India’.
  • Of these 83 aircraft, HAL will deliver 73 Tejas Mk 1A and 10 Tejas Mk 1 trainers by 2026.
  • Tejas will only be the second indigenously built fighter aircraft in India’s history.

Tejas’ history

  • 1983 was the first time when the Government of India cleared a project to build a new Light Combat Aircraft as a replacement for MiG 21s.
  • India’s project to build the engine ‘Kaveri’ for a Light Combat Aircraft failed.
  • Tejas is 50 per cent indigenous. It has a GE American engine, an Israeli Elta radar, and British aerospace, avionics, and other engines.

India’s misadventures with fighter aircraft

  • India has also had a chequered history with fighter aircraft in general.
  • By the mid-1950s, as India’s relationship with Pakistan was tanking, Nehru sought advanced technologies to fight the Pakistanis.
  • India employed a German aeronautical engineer who built the HAL HF-24 Marut, an indigenously built fighter-bomber aircraft.
  • Marut was supposed to be of supersonic speed but could never surpass the speed of sound. This is largely because of the ‘technology denial’ Nobody would sell India a decent engine.
  • India then started fitting two Orpheus engines into one Marut. Therefore, the aircraft had two subsonic engines and always remained underpowered.
  • As many as 147 Maruts were produced and they played an essential ground support role in the 1971 war with Pakistan.
  • By 1975, however, this programme was suspended, and the Maruts were sold for scraps.

About Tejas

https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/hal-set-to-deliver-first-batch-of-3-light-combat-helicopters-to-iaf/article35265426.ece?homepage=true