Indian Express(15-05-2006)

HAL to go into supersonic mode

BANGALORE: Five years after the first indigenous developmental fighter took to the air after complaints of time and technology gaps, the defence PSU - Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL) - has now decided to go into supersonic mode.

HAL chairman Ashok Baweja told this website's newspaper that the fifth prototype vehicle, trainer and the first of the eight Limited Series Production (LSP) will join the programme this year. These aircraft will help accelerate the initial operational clearance for the LCA.

On Saturday, PV2, among a cluster of four jets built, turned supersonic with air-to-air missiles on board. Scientists of the Aeronautical Development Agency (ADA) said it was a big leap forward in the project as the jet was now propelled into operational test light mode.

‘‘As for the LCA project, it is a war-room like situation at HAL. I am getting daily inputs from officers on the progress made in the project,’’ the HAL chief said.

HAL has now taken up the challenge to complete the eight LSPs and 20 more aircraft within three years. The IAF will induct these delta-winged world’s lightest fighter aircraft by 2010 to replace its ageing fleet of MiGs.

The PSU’s focus now is on stepping up the pressure on this strategically important project to ensure that there are no further delays. Three more aircraft, which will join the test flying envelope later this year, will increase the number of aircraft used for certification.

In all, four LCAs, two technology demonstrators and two prototypes had logged over 525 flights.

Not just HAL, but even the ADA has accelerated the programme to the next level by putting a radar on the aircraft and is taking up a weaponisation programme by fitting pylons on the PV2.

The PV2 is a much lighter aircraft and possesses advanced software technology, unlike the Test Demonstrator I, II and PV1. There is a quantum jump in the build standard of PV2, which is a software intensive fourth generation combat aircraft built to production standard. Besides having a high percentage of composite materials in its airframe structure, it incorporates a state-of-the-art, integrated, modular avionics system with open architecture concepts to facilitate easy hardware and software upgrades and re-usability.

The avionics system of Tejas PV II provides excellent pilot vehicle interface in a glass cockpit which has an all-round panoramic view to reduce the pilot’s workload and to increase situational awareness.