Improvements that were to made are
1. weight reduction
2. aerodynamic improvements
3. flight controller upgrade
4. EW improvements
5. avionics upgrade
6. retractable refuelling probe
8. modify air intakes
9. increased length(?)
Posting selected parts from an article by AVSM Pervez Khokkar that was posted in the forum earlier in 2013. He seems to think that there are benefits in doing the same.
A Viable Alternative
The rationale of making the Tejas MK II is centered around the Indian Navy’s requirement of having a greater initial acceleration for deck operations. Hence, the choice of a more powerful and bigger engine, the F414. The IAF has piggybacked on this solution since it promises a greater all-round performance.
The navy’s requirement is well focused on the engine, though they would not be reluctant to avail of any other benefit that this aircraft would bring as a bonus. The IAF’s configuration for the MK II, though discussed internally, is still not frozen. Therefore, to consider a viable alternative is not too late.Give a serious thought to modifying the Mk I with all the changes envisaged for the Mk II, other than the engine change. The only major challenge is to redesign the air intakes to ensure optimum pressure recovery. The rest would entail only modifications and improvements.
The question that comes up is whether a serious study has been done to explore this alternative. It would not need rocket science to presume that the time, effort and money required to do this would be far less than design and development of a ‘new’ aircraft.
The prime focus will have to be on ensuring that the rated thrust is allowed to be produced by the engine. The Swedish version of the F404 is the RM 12, made by Volvo. Some tweaking by Volvo has enhanced the dry thrust from 49.9 kN to 54kN and in the after burner regime, from 78.7kN to 80.5kN. It has also strengthened fan modules to withstand bird strikes. The F404-IN-20 also incorporates these modifications, but the Tejas Mk I intake design does not allow this full thrust to be built up. Hence, it is mandatory to redesign the intakes. Both the Gripen and the older version of the F-18 have air intakes that permit optimum pressure recovery. Can ADA not consult both Saab and Boeing to overcome this problem?
The other unresolved issues that have defied a solution are not because of ADA’s capability, but their reluctance to address them, since it is far easier to sweep them under the carpet, to be looked at later. ‘Later’ has arrived now and procrastination cannot be condoned any further. The work force, which is familiar with the MK I and is relatively unoccupied, can now be gainfully diverted to carrying out structural and other reviews to resolve pending issues, instead of waiting to tackle the MK II, as and when it emerges.
Has ADA measured what the static thrust of the engine is in the MK I as of now and determined how short it falls of the manufacturer’s figure? Unless that is known, how can we aim to achieve the latter? A comprehensive study would provide the answer. In the event that the enhanced initial thrust still falls short of the navy’s requirement, the F 414 may be the only answer (Well we now know that Navy has rejected LCA altogether so reasons due to Navy can be ruled out).
By working on this in parallel we can have a Mk1b much earlier than a Mk2 is out thus reducing the risk associated with the mk2 project and continue more numbers of LCA.
Would this be a sensible thing to do by ADA?