Tejas Mk2 – the more deadly version of the already deadlier Tejas
Tejas has always echoed with the emotions of Indians. From the day it conducted its first flight in 2001, Tejas was always looked upon as the pride on Indian aerospace industry and its prowess. A lot of politics were played around Tejas from inside the country and from outside. Despite all the odds and delays in the development of various sub-systems and power plant, Tejas was finally inducted into the IAF in January 2015 with IOC (Initial Operational Clearance) into No.45 squadron IAF Flying Daggers.
With the receipt of FOC (Final Operational Clearance) in February 2019 during the Aero-India show, Tejas has become fully operational with a few short comings though, fulfilling the dreams of millions of Indians who wanted to see a desi bird defending our skies.
As already discussed above, the FOC variant of Tejas too had some short comings and in order to overcome the short comings and to add the improvements suggested by the IAF, HAL and ADA introduced a more powerful and feature rich variant, the Mk2 which can also be called as the MWF (Medium Weight Fighter). HAL gave the name MWF to the Mk2 as MWF is more than just an upgrade, but it is a totally different fighter compared to Tejas as per HAL officials.
One of the most important upgrades out of the 11 upgrades suggested by the IAF was the power plant. It is general knowledge that the Tejas Mk1 is powered by the GE-404 turbofan engine generating a dry thrust of 53.9 KN and 90 KN thrust with afterburner. Mk2/MWF uses the more powerful GE-414 engine generating more thrust 58.5 KN dry thrust and 98 KN with afterburner. Other important upgrades include the introduction of canards to the MWF which make the fighter more maneuverable than the Mk1 variant with adding high Angle of attack and better stall characteristics.
The length of the air craft increased to more than 15m with front fuselage measuring up to 6.1m, middle fuselage measuring up to 4.5m and rear fuselage measuring up to 3.5m respectively. These figures were obtained from the recent tender documents that were released. This brings the Tejas Mk2 more closely to SAAB’s Gripen which was one of the contenders for MMRCA 2.0 in terms of length.
Next big update is the inclusion of IRST (Infrared search and Track) sensor and a retractable refueling probe which is absent from the Mk1/Mk1a variants. The wings on the MWF get an upgrade with 4 hard points on each wing along with a hard point on the wing tip, bringing the total number of hard points to 11. This makes the air craft capable of carrying a pay load of 6.5 tons.
The intakes also get an upgrade from the Mk1/Mk1a variant as the MK2/MWF has a canted air intakes reducing the wave drag drastically. This also helps in reducing the RCS (Radar Cross Section) of the MK2/MWF. MWF will also have an indigenous OBOG (Onboard Oxygen Generation System) that is being developed by DRDO. A range of electronics will be added to the MWF including an electronic warfare suite. Among the other important upgrades for MWF includes AESA radar. Active Electronically Scanned Array radar is new generation radar which consists of GaAs (Gallium Arsenide) TRR modules (Transmitter and Receiver) which are highly efficient and powerful. Initially, ELTA ELM-2052 AESA radar from Israel will be used in Mk1/Mk1a and afterwards the radar will be replaced by indigenously developed UTTAM AESA radar in Mk2/MWF. Reports are out that UTTAM radar is being tested on a LSP variant.
IAF intends to replace the mirage and mig-29 fighters with Mk1/MWF. With all the mentioned above upgrades and by the time MWF come into production in 2024-2025, it will become one of the most capable jet fighters that will be operated by the IAF. No wonder HAL has decided to separate the program from Tejas because of the extensive upgrades and design changes made to the Mk2/MWF.
The wing consists of different modules such as nose box, inter-spar box, and leading edge and trailing edge elevons respectively. Entomb spar box is a multi-rib structure which is secured by composite boards. It comprises of mainly fuel tank and tank parcel. The tank ends are made with metal in order to make it water tight. Leading edge consists of inboard and outboard slats which are completely made out of metal with multi-rib design. These slots are operated via the actuators. The following edge contains the inbound and outbound slats. Each elevon is metallic fortified structure which is connected to wing via four mounting points. Each wing is attached to fuselage via the wing fuselage attachments. Wing assembly contains of roughly 1300 sections out of which 45% is sheet metal, 30% are machined parts and 25% is made of carbon fiber composites. Approximate dimension of the wing are 6500 mm x 3400mm x 300mm respectively.