tsarkar wrote:No, I don’t think it was possible to do so.
There are two aspects to a new aircraft – fly & fight.
By Fly, it means an aircraft that is good to fly within its envelope. Its envelope should be well established so that operational pilots, whose job is to fly within the envelope, can fly it.
By Fight, it means weapons & sensors.
I’m sure you would agree that Tejas’s performance for Wake Penetration needed to be tested before induction.
So before December 2013, the evaluation of FCS was not complete. This is an important Flight Safety Criteria for induction.
This is a major flight safety requirement incase of an engine flameout.
This is a very key statement. It means before IOC-2, Tejas inflight health had to be monitored by ground team for any anomalies. It was only during IOC-2 testing that Tejas inflight health was certified fit for flying without the need for continuous monitoring via telemetry support.
So, to answer your question, No, Tejas was NOT safe to fly before IOC-2. It didn’t achieve engine relight, FCS testing and all the things listed above before IOC-2.
My whole argument is based on this principle - the foremost thing in an fighter jet that is to be mastered, is its Aerodynamic configuration. An impeccable aerodynamic configuration can outlive almost all of the sub-systems, which can be replaced time to time, relatively easily. Even as you have pointed out - basic flight envelop is not dependent much on the weapons and peripheral avionics systems. So the 1st thing that should have been the priority for LCA was to test the aero-config in entire of its flight envelop (i.e. as much of the intended envelop as possible with given system status). All the safety related tests that you have mentioned, could have been easily done much before since they are function of bare minimum aircraft which was well defined in 2001 itself - aerodynamics + engine + structural features of the airframe + FCS. I can't think of any particular hindrance which forced ADA to do wake tests or engine relight or spin tests until after 2013 or so (in the absence of factual knowledge my best guess is they were over-cautious and thus kept high risk tests in later stages). If this was prioritized over everything, I don't see any reason why all the basic flight testing to check the performance over basic flight envelop could not have been carried out in 5-6 years with 5-6 prototypes (e.g. TD1-6) say by 2007 (FCS would be constantly evolving in this time definitely). Once this was done and design is frozen, telemetry/health monitoring related issues could have been sorted out - since I'd imagine these things would not cause much design changes anyway. If HAL had started background work on MFG facility right from 2001 slowly, by the time first design freeze happen, they would have been in a position to quickly configure it for final design and start production.
tsarkar wrote: Can you substantiate here that what flight related feature upgrades were requested by user? It is with this kind of statement that we depart from the realm of fact and enter into the realm of speculation.
As per CAG report Page 14 http://saiindia.gov.in/english/home/our ... /Index.pdfThere were no revisions to the ASR by IAF, except in respect of weapon requirements, as discussed in Para 2.3.2.
Now, I’ve repeatedly asked Karan, Vina, Maitya and now I’ll ask you to substantiate and educate me as to what flight related changes were requested?
I never meant, there were changes in flight-related or performance related features which delayed things. I am just saying, so many changes were kept rolling all the time (due to user requests for weapons and other issues such as MMR and other LRUs) that every prototype was different, and those changes took focus away from the basic flight testing. Those changes ate away engineering resources and test flight time, which should really have been focused on getting the plane up and flying, don't you think?? For example, what was the need to incorporate drop tanks, guided bombs, HMS ityadi non-essential systems even before you have finished basic flight testing like spin or wake penetration?? These things could have been included later on as well. Those resources could have been put to finish basic safety features first. Delay of 14 months for this, 16 months for that...all this should have been done once LCA had proved itself flight-worthy and fully safe. This is where my point that bare minimum jet with basics weapon capability should have been targeted in first attempt. I think A2A would have been easier since 2 CCM were already part of the basic aerodynamic configuration anyway.
tsarkar wrote: The maintainability issues raised were around estate management & quicker turn around time that is being progressively addressed in Mk1 IOC-2 (Eg pressure refueling) & Mk1 FOC. However, there are no structural or configuration changes in Mk1. All possible structural & configuration changes are to be addressed in Mk2 and possibly Mk1A.
Why the issues were raised after design freeze?? Why was not IAF involved while laying out the plan of internal systems itself?? I have no information on whether it was IAF's apathy that they never bothered about it or ADA's stupidity that they never asked IAF's opinion, so lets keep it aside. But the failure happened delaying the program further.
But surely, you will agree that, if one actually handles some system he gets to know better about its pros and cons. If MK0, even with basic capability, was placed in IAF squadron, even in small number, IAF would have come up with more directed and specific feedback on maintainability. These could have been incorporated in MK1 itself. In fact we could have seen more substantial changes like elongated fuselage, optimum area-ruling, structural optimization etc in MK1 itself.
tsarkar wrote:nileshjr wrote:- Flight envelop for the aerodynamic config would have been opened up much earlier, making possible aero refinement in next tranche possible. MK-1 itself could have had the adjustments that now Mk2 has.
To even think of improvements, one requires to baseline and benchmark Mk1 performance. As explained in the PIB link, the time until December 2013 was spent in baselining and benchmarking basic Mk1 envelope.
If we remove the delays quoted by ADA owing to the changes as mentioned in CAG report, 3 big changes amount to 14+16+18=48 months. Add to that things on account of ADA/HAL and we can see how much of time was wasted in the changes which could have been pushed to MK1 and simply focusing on MK0 would have expedited the flight testing significantly. Please note I am not saying 48 months delay means things would have been done 48 months before if these changes weren't considered. FCS was also being evolved side-by-side. But significant time would have been saved since resources which were put into incorporating those changes would have gone into FCS/flight testing/Safety requirements.
For that matter some weapons systems (which were not demanding structural/aerodynamic changes in design) could have been integrated even after induction into Squadron service. Its not terribly uncommon for fighters to enter squadron service and later get FOC, is it??
tsarkar wrote:HAL with ADA’s inputs was struggling to manufacture even PV’s & LSPs on time? How could more orders helped here?nileshjr wrote:Early start of production run would have let HAL learn all nitty gritty about setting up of assembly line much earlier, 2006-07 onwards rather than 2010-11 onwards.
Sir, more than orders, standards & drawings required to be frozen. The initial set of SOP/DAL for IOC production standards started coming from 2010. Without SOP/DAL, on what basis does one manufacture?
Again, for constantly changing designs, of coarse HAL would find it difficult to maintain MFG speed for n number of reasons such as many components would be hand-crafted, re-work would happen etc. Unless and until a configuration is frozen, how can drawings be released. No standard config, no drawing, no standardized MFG possible. Things would have been different if the configuration was frozen much earlier in basic form.
tsarkar wrote:To summarize, the basic Mk1 flight envelope was opened by IOC in December 2013. Flight safety issues like Wake Penetration, Engine Relight, FCS evaluation were tested and addressed during IOC-2 achieved in December 2013. Production SOP/DAL could be framed only after IOC. Even if orders were placed, they would’ve stayed in backlog unless flight safety tests were satisfactorily tested.
To summarize my POV, if the basic config was fixed much earlier, focus could have been kept on first proving flight worthiness along with all safety requirements fulfilled for bare minimum jet. A frozen design for this config say MK0, would have allowed early release of production drawings for HAL and HAL could have started on first small batch production where they would have ironed out all the difficulties, establishing supply-chain, logistics etc. That small batch could have entered squadron service in IAF were IAF would be able to develop infrastructure for LCA, get familarize with the jet, pilot training and all, maintenance issues noted and conveyed to designers, final user's comments, feature requests fed back into the design discussions etc etc. This would have enabled the program management to better plane the next iterations of LCA. To me this would have greatly expediated the whole program.
tsarkar wrote:Sir, testing & certification of trainer version, leave aside arms, is running behind the main Tejas program. Which is why 20 IOC and 20 FOC production planes include no trainers.
No no Sir, I was not refering to LCA trainer. I meant basic MK0 version at the level of an armed trainer for example weaponised Hawk in terms of flight and fight. I actually have no idea why trainer is taking so much time to get certified. There are changes in 1-seater and 2-seater, but are those changes really so substantial?? I don't know.
tsarkar wrote:Aircraft development is a time consuming process. Where the IAF has gone horribly wrong is by not suppressing the flippant comments made by a certain section of its officers in the Media.
That and some more. From any objective angle, its not only IAF that has onus of failure, but ADA and HAL also have gone wrong terribly. I have most sympathies for ADA since they are least experienced of all three and have most challenging part in development process. LCA excelled at technical things but sucked big time in project management.