The Twin Engine Deck Based Fighter (TEDBF) for the Indian Navy to be manufactured by Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL) will be operationally ready in eight years after approval from the Cabinet Committee on Security (CCS), a senior Aeronautical Development Agency (ADA) official told News18.
The ADA, under the Defence Ministry’s Department of Defence Research and Development, is responsible for the design and development of the aircraft.
In an interview to News18, project director of the LCA (Navy) and TEDBF at ADA, TV Vinod Kumar said the estimated cost of the four prototype aircraft to meet the Navy’s requirements and get them qualified within the set timelines is around Rs 14,000 crore.
“We are basing our timelines on the CCS approval. Once that comes, the programme side will see better execution — including the procurement of raw materials. We are also looking forward to working jointly with the private industry which is contributing significantly to the aerospace sector,” he said.
The Navy is looking at inducting the deck-based jets by 2032 to replace its MiG-29 K fleet. While the service has projected a requirement of 45 fighters, the ADA is hopeful of bigger numbers in the future.
In the interim, the Navy plans to fill the gap in its long-pending aircraft-carrier-borne fighter jets programme by inking a deal to acquire either the French Rafale M or the US F/A 18 Super Hornets through an intergovernmental agreement. The trials for both the aircraft were conducted earlier this year.
Kumar said a clean staircase from the LCA Navy programme led to the development of the TEDBF.
Two LCA (Navy) aircraft are operational at present and a trainer is set to join in within a few more months, Kumar said.
Aircraft can be converted to suit CATOBAR mechanism
Kumar said the ADA, along with the user (Navy), has narrowed down on the configuration for the aircraft.
“We are working on the preliminary design review of this aircraft. We need to check the compatibility of the aircraft on both the aircraft carriers of the Indian Navy — INS Vikramaditya and INS Vikrant — and check how it fits into the lift of the ship,” Kumar said.
The TEDBF is being designed in a way that its wings can be folded — bringing down the length from 11.2 meters to 7.6 meters. The aircraft will have an arrested landing with an engagement speed of less than 140 knots when it lands on a carrier.
Kumar said if and when the second indigenous aircraft carrier — which is still at the drawing board stage — comes in, the aircraft can be converted to suit the CATOBAR (Catapult Assisted Take-off But Arrested Recovery) mechanism with certain modifications. They will be powered by the advanced GE-214 engines from the US, he added.
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