HAL Tejas

The HAL Tejas is an Indian single-seat, single-jet engine, multi-role light fighter developed by Hindustan Aeronautics Limited. It is a tailless, compound delta wing design powered by a single engine. It came from the Light Combat Aircraft (LCA) programme, which began in the 1980s to replace India's ageing MiG-21 fighters. Later, the LCA was officially named "Tejas", meaning "Radiance" by the then Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee.

Tejas has a pure double delta wing configuration (wing root leading edge sweep 50°, outer wing leading edge sweep 62.5° and trailing edge forward sweep 4°), with no tailplanes or canard, 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. It is supersonic and highly manoeuvrable, and is the smallest and lightest in its class of contemporary combat aircraft.

The Tejas is the second supersonic fighter developed by Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL) after the HAL HF-24 Marut. The Indian Air Force (IAF) was reported to have a requirement for 200 single-seat and 20 two-seat conversion trainers, while the Indian Navy might order up to 40 single-seaters to replace its Sea Harrier FRS.51 and Harrier T.60. The Tejas was cleared in January 2011 for use by Indian Air Force pilots. It received the second of three levels of operational clearance on 20 December 2013. On 17 January 2015, the first Tejas LCA was officially inducted into the IAF, with final operational clearance (FOC) expected by late 2015. The first Tejas squadron, to be based at Bengaluru, is scheduled to enter service by 2017-2018.

HAL Tejas
Class Aircraft
Type Fighter
Manufacturer Hindustan Aeronautics
Origin India
Country Name Origin Year
India 2001
Country Name Operational Year Retirement Year
India 2015 View
ManufacturerName Production From Production To Quantity
Hindustan Aeronautics 16 View

In 1969, the Indian government accepted the recommendation by its Aeronautics Committee that Hindustan Aeronautics Limited should design and develop a fighter aircraft around a proven engine. Based on a 'Tactical Air Support Aircraft' ASR markedly similar to that for the Marut, HAL completed design studies in 1975, but the project fell through due to inability to procure the selected "proven engine" from a foreign manufacturer and the IAF's requirement for an air superiority fighter with secondary air support and interdiction capability remained unfulfilled.

In 1983, IAF realised the need for an Indian combat aircraft for two primary purposes. The principal and most obvious goal was to replace India's ageing MiG-21 fighters, which had been the mainstay of the IAF since the 1970s. The "Long Term Re-Equipment Plan 1981" noted that the MiG-21s would be approaching the end of their service lives by the mid-1990s, and that by 1995, the IAF would lack 40% of the aircraft needed to fill its projected force structure requirements. The LCA programme's other main objective was an across-the-board advancement of India's domestic aerospace industry. The value of the aerospace "self-reliance" initiative is not simply the aircraft's production, but also the building of a local industry capable of creating state-of-the-art products with commercial spin-offs for a global market.

In 1984, the Indian government chose to establish the Aeronautical Development Agency (ADA) to manage the LCA programme. While the Tejas is often described as a product of Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL), responsibility for its development belongs to ADA, a national consortium of over 100 defence laboratories, industrial organisations, and academic institutions with HAL being the principal contractor. The government's "self-reliance" goals for the LCA include the three most sophisticated and challenging systems: the fly-by-wire (FBW) flight control system (FCS), multi-mode pulse-doppler radar, and afterburning turbofan engine.

The IAF's Air Staff Requirement for the LCA were not finalised until October 1985. This delay rendered moot the original schedule which called for first flight in April 1990 and service entry in 1995; however, it also gave the ADA time to better marshal national R&D and industrial resources, recruit personnel, create infrastructure, and to gain a clearer perspective of which advanced technologies could be developed locally and which would need to be imported. Out of a total of 35 major avionics components and line-replaceable units (LRUs), only three involve foreign systems. These are the multi-function displays (MFDs) by Sextant (France) and Elbit (Israel), the helmet-mounted display and sight (HMDS) cueing system by Elbit, and the laser pod supplied by Rafael (Israel). Production aircraft are expected to have MFDs from Indian suppliers. A few important items of equipment (such as the Martin-Baker ejection seat) have been imported. As a consequence of the embargo imposed on India after its nuclear weapons tests in May 1998, many items originally planned to be imported were instead developed locally; these sanctions contributed to the prolonged delays suffered by the LCA.

Role Multirole fighter
National origin India
Manufacturer Hindustan Aeronautics Limited(HAL)
Design group Aeronautical Development Agency
First flight 4 January 2001
Introduction 17 January 2015
Status In production
Primary users Indian Air Force
Indian Naval Air Arm
Number built 16 (including prototypes as of Nov. 2014)
Unit cost 200 crore (US$31 million) for Mark I

General characteristics

  • Crew: 1
  • Length: 13.20 m (43 ft 4 in)
  • Wingspan: 8.20 m (26 ft 11 in)
  • Height: 4.40 m (14 ft 9 in)
  • Wing area: 38.4 m² (413 ft²)
  • Empty weight: 6,500 kg (14,300 lb)
  • Loaded weight: 9,500 kg (20,944 lb)
  • Max. takeoff weight: 13,200 kg (29,100 lb)
  • Powerplant: 1 × F404-GE-IN20 turbofan
  • Dry thrust: 53.9 kN (12,100 lbf)
  • Thrust with afterburner: 89.8 kN (20,200 lbf)
  • Internal fuel capacity: 2,458 kg
  • External fuel capacity: 2 x 1,200-litre drop tank at inboard, 1 x 725-litre drop tank under fuselage


  • Maximum speed: Mach 1.6 (1,350 km/h) calibrated airspeed (CAS) at high altitude, reached in testing of IOC-I, theoretically capable of Mach 1.8
  • Range: 3,000 km (1,620 nmi, 1,864 mi)
  • Combat radius: 300 km (162 nmi, 186 mi)
  • Ferry range: 1,700 km (1,056 mi)
  • Service ceiling: 15,240 m (50,000 ft)
  • Wing loading: 247 kg/m² (50.7 lb/ft²)
  • Thrust/weight: 1.07
  • g-limits: +8/-3.5 g


  • Guns: 1× mounted 23 mm twin-barrel GSh-23 cannon with 220 rounds of ammunition.
  • Hardpoints: 8 total: 1× beneath the port-side intake trunk for targeting pods, 6× under-wing, and 1× under-fuselage with a capacity of 3,500 kg external fuel and ordnance
  • Missiles:
  • Air-to-air missiles:
    R-73 (missile)
  • Air-to-surface missiles:
    Kh-59ME (TV guided standoff Missile)
    Kh-59MK (Laser guided standoff Missile)
    Anti-ship missiles
  • Bombs:
  • Source:
    KAB-1500L laser-guided bombs
    GBU-16 Paveway II
    ODAB-500PM fuel-air explosives
    ZAB-250/350 incendiary bombs
    BetAB-500Shp powered concrete-piercing bombs
    FAB-500T gravity bombs
    OFAB-250-270 gravity bombs
    OFAB-100-120 gravity bombs
    RBK-500 cluster bomb stake
  • Others:
    S-8 rocket pods
    Bofors 135 mm rocket
    Drop tanks for ferry flight/extended range/loitering time.

End notes