G. Satheesh Reddy gave a lecture during 21st Dr. Srinivasan Memorial Lecture- 2021, organized by Aeronautical Society of India in Association with Vikram Sarabhai Space Centre (VSSC). This lecture gave a sneek peek into the Twin engine deck based fighter design. The lecture also provided more details about the program.
The Aeronautical Development Agency (ADA) will develop a Twin Engine Deck Based Fighter (TEDBF) for the Indian Navy (IN). This fighter jet will replace the Mig 29 K of Indian navy operational from INS Vikramaditya and will be operating from INS Vikrant.
- The fighter jet will be a medium weight fighter.
- The up weight of the fighter will be 26 tons.
- The aircraft will be the STOBAR Variant. (Potentially CATOBAR Aircraft is also on cards)
Lets look at the design in details. The Twin engine deck based fighter will be powered by two high thrust engines (Most likely GE F414). This will make the jet to carry enough fuel and ordinance to carry out any mission.
Design Aspect :
The design will retain the delta wing design along with Canards from the Tejas Mk2 program. The Air Intake also appears similar to the proposed Tejas Mk2 Design. The wingspan and length of the fighter jet will be more than Tejas MK2. Like Tejas MK2, the aircraft will carry a pylon on the wingtip.
Engine Aspect :
G. Satheesh Reddy during his lecture specified that DRDO has a dream to have its on Jet engine and they are working towards realizing that dream. Though its believed that Twin Engine Deck Based Fighter jet will be powered by General electric F414 IN6 engine. But now it appears that DRDO may also explore the option of joint venture engine that will be developed for AMCA.
Stealth Aspect :
The Twin Engine deck-based fighter jet may have a frontal low observable design, making it the best hybrid aircraft for the requirements of the Indian Navy. The design indication in the slide suggests that the frontal fuselage of the Twin engine deck-based fighter will inherit the design from the fifth-generation program of the Indian Air force, AMCA. Though to maintain agility in the air & make the delta suitable for deck based operation the aircraft will feature canards.
The canard, aspect will have Radar Cross section implications. This i remains unclear if the frontal fuselage will be really optimized or its too early to draw conclusions out of this.
What we know ?
The Twin engine deck based fighter will replace the Mig 29K of the indian navy that will be operational on both the carriers of Indian Navy. Thus the aircraft has to in the medium category to fit in the shoe of Mig 29K. However the seek-peek suggest that this jet will not just be more capable than Mig 29 in terms of MTOW ( 26 Tone) but will be far more advance in technology.
The aircraft will get the technologies from the fifth-generation fighter jet program of the Indian airforce. The Advanced Medium Combat Aircraft will have almost similar timelines.
This fighter jet will take its first flight in 2026. This implies the prototype development should start at least two years before. So, the development of the fighter jet will likely start in 2024. These timelines are really aggressive and designers, engineers and scientists will have to work on stretched schedules to realize this dream.
Replacement of Mig 29K
Its not a secret that Indian Navy needs more fighter jets to utilize both the aircraft carriers to the fullest potential. The current fleet of Mig29K is not enough to form the airwing of both the aircraft carriers. Thus Indian Navy may also acquire few fighter jets to compliment the Mig29K fleet of Indian Navy.
This program is certainly the future of the Indian Naval Aviation and this sneek-peek suggests that it’s a beast in making.