ADA is here to stay, says LCA architect
When doubts are being raised over the future of Aeronautical Development Agency (ADA), designing the Light Combat Aircraft (LCA), senior scientist and architect of the LCA programme, and consultant with Aeronautical Development Establishment (ADE), Kota Harinarayana said: “ADA has enough work for the next 15 years. We have enormous workload for LCA project itself and beyond LCA, too. ADA is here to stay.”
Doubts have arisen in the light of LCA taking 25 years to fruition and massive Rs 25,000-crore spend. LCA is poised to secure its Initial Operational Clearance-II (IOC) at Bangalore’s HAL airport three days from now and many scientists see this as a sign that LCA will achieve the Final Operational Clearance (FOC) by 2015 and eventually be inducted by Indian Air Force (IAF). A section of scientists has asked what after LCA for ADA? What will it do?
They say there has been no definitive answer. They say knowledge-base acquired during LCA effort has not been built upon, that national teams put together from different organisations have dispersed and that R&D institutions are losing bright and highly motivated talent to private aeropace MNCs.
Scientists also say the LCA programme has been so long drawn that it leads to the conclusion there is no effective and credible decision-making system committed to nationally agreed vision for aeronautics in India.
The IAF was expecting higher standards from LCA and delayed the operational clearances. There was a difference of opinion whether it was as good, if not better than MiG-21 the LCA is replacing. Finally, IAF agreed to additional operational clearance before the final one.
When all these doubts were articulated, a special committee was set up by the Ministry of Defence to look into the future of ADA. The committee will define the work focus of ADA, post-LCA.
Harinarayana, however, has a different take on ADA’s performance and contribution to aeronautics. “After LCA Mark-I, LCA Mark-II, LCA Navy and LCA Trainer are ADA’s focus. There is a lot of work with regard to LCA variants themselves.
Then there’s plan to develop Advanced Medium Range Combat Aircraft (AMRCA), the fifth generation fighter aircraft based on stealth technology for which feasibility report is ready. So, ADA is not short of work. Moreover, IAF is keen that ADA should continue. IAF wants ADA to continue technology and fighter aircraft development and look at LCA Mark-II version, an advanced version of LCA Mark-I.” He said the committee looking into the future of ADA was doing stock-taking exercise. “Once a year, any organisation has to see how things are running and whether projects require course correction. Any organisation should look at itself periodically. This is what the committee is doing.”
V S Arunachalam, former scientific advisor to Raksha Mantri said: “LCA has flown 2445 test flights with not one crash. Doesn’t this exhibit complexity we have achieved over 25 years?”
What is Tejas LCA
The Tejas has a pure delta wing configuration, with no tailplanes or foreplanes, and a single dorsal fin. It integrates technologies such as relaxed static stability, fly-by-wire flight control system, multi-mode radar, integrated digital avionics system, composite material structures, and a flat-rated engine. The Tejas is the second supersonic fighter developed indigenously by Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL) after the HAL Marut. The Indian Air Force (IAF) is reported to have a requirement for 200 single-seat and 20 two-seat conversion trainers, while the Indian Navy may order up to 40 single-seaters to replace its Sea Harrier and Harrier T. The Tejas was cleared in January 2011 for use by the Indian Air Force pilots.