Second Tejas Enjoys Successful Maiden Flight

The Bangalore light combat aircraft (LCA) known as the Tejas not only enjoyed a successful maiden flight when it zipped through the skies over Bangalore on Monday evening, but it managed to become the second Tejas aircraft to break the sound barrier. The supersonic maiden test flight lasted approximately 43 minutes and saw the aircraft reach Mach 1.1 at an altitude of 9.5 km.

The success of this excellent test flight was announced in a statement given by the state-run Aeronautical Development Agency (ADA) on Monday. The statement also revealed that the test aircraft was piloted by the ADA’s national flight test center (NFTC) pilot, N Tiwari. Wing Commander Tiwari was chased by another aircraft during the test flight – a commonplace practice in Bangalore. The multi-role fighter, a limited series production aircraft (LSP2), performed well during the test flight with a Tejas prototype version three (PV-3) hot on its tail under the guidance of Wing Commander R R Tyagi. The entire test flight was monitored from NFTC’s telemetry station, which is situated at the Hindustan Aeronautics Ltd (HAL) airport that is located on the eastern side of the city. Flight Test Engineer Wing Commander M Prabhu acted as the Test Director.

The impressive test flight is considered as being significant for several reasons. For starters, this is the second LSP aircraft to have taken off from the HAL airport. However, the most notable factor in the entire process is the inclusion of the new GE404-IN20 engine in the aircraft. The LSP2 is the first aircraft to be powered by this device and it has already shown that it can out perform its predecessor, the GE404-F2J3. The new IN20 provides aircraft with greater longevity and increased thrust – both of which no doubt contributed to the aircraft achieving Mach 1.1 during its maiden flight. It also has Full Authority Digital Engine Control (FADEC). The engines are supplied by US-based Company General Electric.

Yet another new feature enjoyed by the LSP2 is a new ejection seat – the Martin Baker Mk 16LG. All these new features will contribute towards making the new Tejas aircraft the best available aircraft in India. The Indian Air Force (IAF) has already made arrangements to have the first eight Tejas delivered to both themselves and the Indian Navy between 2010 and 2012. All the new aircraft will be fitted with the IN20 engines. The aircraft was supposed to have taken off last week already, but had to be delayed due to pre-monsoon weather. However, it would seem that the eventual test flight was highly successful and that all test objectives were achieved.