YouTube – HAL Tejas
one or two
1 – 20,200 lbf.
43 ft. 4 in.
26 ft. 11 in.
1- 23 mm
The highly maneuverable HAL (Hindustan Aeronautics Limited) Tejas (Radiance) is the lightest and smallest multi-role fighter aircraft capable of supersonic flight in the world. Its missions include air to air combat, close air support, anti-shipping and reconnaissance.
The aircraft has quadruple redundancy fly by wire controls, a high strength airframe using advanced carbon fiber composites, and a low radar cross section design.
The idea for the aircraft was conceived in the early 1980’s. It was at that time that the Indian Air Force began thinking about a replacement for its MiG-21 aircraft that were nearing the end of their service lives.
The Indian government wanted to use the opportunity to develop their own fighter aircraft rather than purchase one from an external source. The project was given the name Light Combat Aircraft (LCA) program and the Aeronautical Development Agency (ADA) was established to manage it. The aircraft would have fly-by-wire controls, a reliable afterburning turbofan engine, and the latest radar system.
It was the ADA that provided the design for the new aircraft. France’s Dassault-Breguet Aviation were hired as consultants and to assist in the design and the connection of aircraft components enabling them to function together.
The “go ahead” aircraft designed was agreed to in 1990. It would be a small tail-less delta winged machine with relaxed static stability (RSS) to enhance maneuverability performance and a host of other advanced features.
From 1992 through 1997 the fly-by-wire system, avionics and radar for the HAL Tejas was under development. By January of 2001 the aircraft was cleared to fly. The production of three additional prototype aircraft began in November 2001. In June of 2002 it was reported that development costs had increased and the program was behind schedule. Delays and cost increases continued and in May of 2006 HAL stated that “the performance of the aircraft fell short of expectations”.
By 2008 some 70 percent of the HAL Tejas components were being produced in India, however its engine and other components were of foreign manufacture. The Indian government gave their approval for production of the aircraft, planning to use their own engines, radar and other components as soon as they became available.
In 2011 the first Indian Air Force HAL Tejas equipped squadron was formed. The aircraft was first deployed with the Indian Air Force No. 45 Squadron, named the Flying Daggers, in July of 2016. By 2019 the 45 Squadron of the HAL Tejas had successfully flown over 1,500 sorties during trials.
In 2019, Indian Air Force Air Marshal Birender Singh Dhanoa stated that the HAL Tejas is reliable and can deliver air-to-ground ordnance with precision.
The Indian Air Force expects to receive 123 HAL Tejas aircraft by the end of 2025.
Malaysia and the UAE have both expressed interest in the aircraft.
Some 32 HAL Tejas aircraft have been produced to date.