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DEFEXPO 2004 - Part 3
By B Harry
Feb 8, 2004, 16:06

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The Naval LCA 'Tejas' is still in very early stages of development. Although it was previously thought that the LCA trainer came from the Naval version, it turns out that the situation is actually quite the opposite and the naval version was a derivative of the Trainer and the former is essentially a hybrid of the Trainer's front fuselage and the conventional version's rear fuselage. The assembly jig for the N-LCA's front fuselage, is thus shared by the Trainer. Another incorrect assessment was assumption that the naval variant carries more fuel than the conventional LCA - the former actually has reduced internal fuel although it must be noted that specifications are still in conceptual stages at present and can be subject to change depending on evolving requirements.

At an overall length of 14.6 m, the naval version will also be quite a bit longer. The lengthened undercarriage for the higher sink rate desired (24 ft/sec), also facilitates for the carriage of larger weapons on the centerline station. The external warload capacity has been decreased to 3000-3500 kg. A shore based test facility with a ski-jump ramp and a three-wire arrester system is to be installed in order to evaluate the performance of two N-LCA prototypes (NP-1 and NP-2).

Extremely sharp viewers may note something that isn't immediately apparent - the nose canards or 'moustache' as seen on previous Naval LCA models, are missing. The canards were indeed deleted from the design after extensive wind tunnel testing showed that they provided no significant performance, lift increase or improved handling at higher AoA. The LEVCONs will however, be retained and along with a higher thrust to weight ratio, will help the naval variant exceed the conventional LCA's AoA and turn performance. Both the trainer and naval version have an additional intake at the tail-base for cooling the tailpipe.

Although rumors of equipping the LCA with the Phazotron Kopyo instead of the DRDO MMR have proven to be false, the latter will most certainly receive a phased array antenna in the later stages, which is in confirmed development. Coming to the cockpit, the production LCAs are to feature an indigenous ejection seat in lieu of the Martin Baker Mk.16 on the prototypes. The Zvezda K-36 was considered but eliminated as an option on the basis of it being strangely, very expensive. The overall cost of the N-LCA programme is being shared by DRDO and the Indian Navy.

Never revealed to the public before, the 'Tusker' ECM pod has been developed by DRDO under the Tempest EW project which also includes the Tarang RWR. The jammer is already in service, primarily intended for the MiG-27ML.


The Brahmos supersonic cruise missile is to become the Indian Navy's standard strike weapon, having been recently declared as 'ready for induction'. The prospect of exporting this deadly weapon to 'friendly third world countries' would probably be limited by the high unit cost, much to the western world's relief. The Brahmos has been marketed at several shows including MAKS, LIMA, IDEX and Africa Aerospace and Defence Exibition. A single round is 9 m long, 670 mm in diameter and weighs more than 3000 kg including a 300 kg warhead. A submarine based launch complex would consist of canisterized missile rounds, container launchers, loading devices, ground support and training equipment.

The land based mobile Brahmos complex consists of three missile canisters, a power generation cabin and a Launch Control Centre cabin mounted on a fully autonomous Tatra 12x12 vehicle. A Mobile command post which coordinates action among different launch vehicles, communicates with the complex through an HF/VHF antenna mounted on an erectable mast. A complete missile battalion will include Missile Supply and Loading Vehicles, Combat Duty Support Vehicles and possibly, a target designation helicopter. Russia's contribution to the Brahmos includes the active radar seeker and the liquid fuel ramjet engine wheras DRDO developed the onboard navigation system, onboard computer, electronics, fire control system, software and some parts of the propulsion system.

The Air-launched Brahmos-A will be carried by Su-30MKIs and Maritime Patrol Aircraft. It has a reduced mass of 2500 kg (max) but will retain the 300 kg warhead/payload capability and the standard range parameters of 290 km at Mach 2.8 on a Hi-Lo trajectory. The missile is also capable of a fully low altitude trajectory at around half the maximum range.

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