I would like to see a list of technologies that should not have been in the IAF's dream "simple fighter". No other aircraft designed in the 80's (or even slightly earlier) came without digital FBW, composites, etc. Keep in mind that even the JF-17 bandar has a FBW system. If the IAF had been given the "simple" fighter it wanted it would have followed the HF-24 into early retirement due to obsolescence and the IAF would be looking for a replacement within 10 years. We had to try and catch up with the rest of the world some time. It is obvious that we would take much longer to develop the same technologies than the countries which had been designing aircraft for donkey years. There was no alternative to doing it. Add the peanuts that we could afford/were willing to spend compared to the others and the lack of IAF involvement and I'd say the ADA has done a pretty good job till now.
One more thing. The actual development only commenced in 1990 which was followed immediately by the severe financial crunch of the early and mid 90s.
Did you miss the "quad" part of the DFBW? It is that particular niche iirc, that made the ADA go away from Dassault, which btw did offer a triplex DFBW + 1 analog channel - same as in the Rafale, the same fighter we consider a tech marvel today. Should've been more than enough for IAF purposes. Composites is fine but the idea to make the "lightest/smallest" fighter was unnecessary. And the idea of cramming the bird full of 45% composites by weight was not necessary either - jmho. Even the bloody F-22 doesn't make such claims, and to what effect? A far better approach would have been to get the basics right, and then move to esoteric stuff, one block at a time. Esp. because the nation's fighting service was largely dependent on the bird not coming a cropper.
Frankly, ACM Krish, who pushed the tech demo program was rather lenient in just requiring the FCS, composite structure, and composites to be valideated by the demo. If he had included the bloody engine as well as radar, the program would've never gone past this stage. Ideally, they should've stuck with Fra for the FCS, and even the engine, and then used the EL-2032/derby combo for the initial 40 birds. By now a BVR fighter could have been in IAF hands.
Catching up is all fine and dandy - do it with a tech demonstrator, give the AF a fighter they can fight with. IOWs, don't unnecessarily ransom operational needs to tech development needs. There was absolutely no need to try and jump ahead of what was one of the best, techwise, at the time - the Mirage 2000. We have gained little, and lost a LOT by such decisions, and God forbid, might lose even more in case of a large war.
The decision to go with the US instead of France, despite grave misgivings by the IAF, ultimately proved to be a major undoing of the LCA, we were sanctioned and were setback in terms of the FBW as well as engines. Even now, the technocrats continue to go to the US for such needs as mk2 engines, and flight envelope expansion - remarkable. No wonder the IAF wants little to do with the LCA. And to top it all they take FOREVER to make their decisions - a case in point is the engine choice for the mk2. IIRC, it took a whole 2 years to decide in favor of the F-414.
No bhaiyya, the IAF might not be the greatest supporter of local products, but in this case, I don't blame them much actually. Although I think at this stage a massive order for the LCA mk1 would be helpful. As things stand, the LCA has been partially successful in its two pronged goal - it has to some extent met the needs by providing an industrial/tech base in the aviation arena, however, it has rather failed in its second goal - to provide the IAF with a reliable, 4 gen BVR fighter.