Indian Navy TEDBF: Home made fighter for aircraft carrier

During 21st Dr. Srinivasan Memorial Lecture – 2021, organized by Aeronautical Society of India in Association with Vikram Sarabhai Space Centre (VSSC), DRDO Chairman G. Satheesh Reddy gave some important details about the upcoming TEDBF aircraft for Navy.

Tedbf preliminary design

In the slide shared by Chairman, we can see that TEDBF is going to have a maximum take of weight (MTOW) of 26 Tonnes. It will be very interesting to see the maximum take of weight TEDBF can achieve from STOBAR carrier.

At the same we can see a preliminary design of Deck Bases Fighter. In the preliminary design we can clearly see a canards integration with aircraft. These canards will help in generating more lift for the aircraft while launching from aircrafts carrier.

Tedbf preliminary design
Slides from G. Satheesh Reddy lecture

From the design we can also notice that the ADA (Aeronautical Development Agency) is trying to incorporate stealth characteristics in the frontial fuselage of the aircraft. This means the aircraft is going to have a very low Radar Cross Section (RCS) from front.

Although generally design body used to avoid canards in order to increase stealth characteristics of the aircraft.

TEDBF is also going to be a delta wing aircraft (derive from Tejas) but these wings can also be foldable, so that it can fit in the hangar and lift of Indian aircraft carrier.

As per G. Satheesh Reddy, the Twin Engine Deck Based Fighter (TEDBF) will take its first flight by 2026 and by this calculation the fighter aircraft can enter into the service of Indian Navy, somewhere around 2029-30.

DRDO is working on Twin Engine Deck Based Fighter (TEDBF) to replace Navy carrier Based Fighter MiG-29k. Indian Navy has gone through a rough experience with Russian MiG-29k and by 2030 Navy requires new fighter jets to replace its existing fleets.

Work on India’s twin-engine deck based fighter (TEDBF), which will operate from the Indian Navy’s current and future aircraft carriers, is on track, Vinod Kumar, the project director for the programme, has said.

The TEDBF is being developed to replace Russian-origin MiG-29Ks.

In an interview to journalist Anantha Krishnan M, Kumar said the Aeronautical Development Agency (ADA) has received inputs from the Navy and worked out two configurations which satisfy most of the requirements.

Kumar said that the ADA received “informal requirements” for the TEDBF from the navy “very early in 2020”. The formal operational requirements were given by the Indian Navy in May, after which the ADA worked out two configurations for the TEDBF programme — “Delta-Canard and Trapezoidal with Tail”.

Both these configurations satisfy most of the requirements put forward by the Indian Navy for this programme, the TEDBF project director added.

“We are confident about the configurations. We will go to the Indian Navy, the user, and then seek their view on what is the way ahead to freeze the configuration and fine tune all the requirements with the PSQR (Preliminary Staff Qualitative Requirements) that will be released by the Indian Navy,” Kumar said.

Kumar revealed that the Delta-Canard configuration of the deck based fighter will undergo low-speed wind tunnel tests soon.

“Requirements that the navy has put in terms of carrier suitability and performance have been taken into consideration for this configuration,” he said.

ADA started pursuing a twin-engine design (now TEDBF) after the Indian Navy made it clear that it was not interested in a single-engine fighter. This effectively killed the Mk.2 version of the single-engine naval light combat aircraft (LCA).

“The Indian Navy is looking for a twin-engine deck based fighter in lieu of the LCA Navy Mk.2. With confidence generated from AMCA design, we have developed twin engine competence,” the ADA has said in the past.

“We are not ditching the LCA Navy Mk.2. The navy is adamant they do not want a single engine fighter. Hence we have to reconfigure. This decision has been forced on us. It involves a significant design effort which could be avoided if we continue with the single engine LCA Navy Mk.2,” an ADA officer told Livefist.

Kumar said that the experience gained and technology developed by the ADA in the navalisation of the LCA will flow into the TEDBF programme. Naval version of the LCA made its first successful ski jump take-off and arrested landing from the INS Vikramaditya on 12 January last year.

The TEDBF, which will weigh around 23 tonnes, will be larger than the 13.5 tonne Tejas Mk-1 fighter and the 17.5 tonne Mk-2 version of the fighter. The fighter would be in the same class as the MiG-29Ks, which the Indian Navy currently operates from its only operational aircraft carrier, the INS Vikramaditya.

Reports say the fighter, currently in the initial stages of design and development, would have the ability to carry a weapons payload of nine tonnes.

As a dedicated deck based fighter, it will feature folding wings to save space.

The TEDBF will be equipped with a large number of indigenous sensors and weapons. According to the ADA, the fighter will have an improved version of the home-grown Uttam active electronically scanned array radar developed by the Electronics and Radar Development Establishment of Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO). Advanced version of India’s first air-to-air missile, Astra, will also be integrated on the TEDBF.

The TEDBF should be ready by 2026, Navy Chief Navy Chief Admiral Karambir Singh said at a presser ahead of the Navy Day in December 2020.

“The Qualitative Requirements [QR] are being made. They said they should be able to push it out by 2026. If it meets our time and QR requirements, we will definitely take it [fighter aircraft],” the Navy Chief was quoted as saying.

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