The design for the Indian Navy’s future fighter has gradually been revealed.

The HAL Twin Engine Deck Based Fighter (TEDBF) is a canard delta wing, twin-engine, carrier-based, multirole combat aircraft currently under development for the Indian Navy. The fighter is being designed and developed by the Aeronautical Development Agency (ADA), and will be manufactured by Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL).

The TEDBF was shown off at Aero India 2023. This version of the aircraft has a blunt, rounded nose cone instead of the earlier, angled, stealth-optimized frontal radome. The diverterless supersonic inlets (DSI), canards, and leading-edge extensions (LEX) from the previous version are all still included in the current design. This new design is probably the final that will go into production if the programme receives approval from the Cabinet Committee on Security.

The TEDBF programme is projected to cost 14,000 crores. The new design is strikingly similar to the Dassault Rafale fighter jets, especially in terms of the canopy configuration and overall appearance. However, the TEDBF will have DSI intakes, which the Rafale does not have. As the Indian Navy prepares to place orders for 26 Rafale M jets for aircraft carrier operations, once the ADA formally confirms the new design selection for the programme, the visual resemblance between the TEDBF and the Rafale is likely to ignite controversy.

The first flight is expected to be in 2026,with production planned for 2031. The design’s twin engines are expected to allow shorter take-offs from the Indian Navy’s Short Take-Off Barrier Arrested Recovery (STOBAR) aircraft carriers. As a dedicated deck-based fighter, it will feature foldable wings for more compact storage. The TEDBF will predominantly be equipped with indigenous weapons systems.

According to the plan, India’s new fighter will have a single seat, a length of 17 m, a wingspan of 11.60 m, an empty weight of 14 tons, and a maximum take-off weight of 26 tons. It will be equipped with two engines expected to be General Electric F414 afterburning turbofan, with 58.5 kN thrust each dry, and 98 kN with afterburner. Maximum speed will be Mach 1.6, service ceiling will be 18,000 m.

The aviation weapon set will be mounted on 11 hardpoints, with a capacity of 7,500 kg , with provisions to carry India’s domestic aviation weapons complex, including Air-to-air missile, Anti-ship missile, and Anti-radiation missile. The avionics system is expected to be equipped with LRDE Uttam AESA Radar.

Ultimately, the TEDBF program’s new layout marks a dramatic change of course. Although its performance and capabilities are still to be determined, this new design adds an interesting dimension to the ongoing development of this vital project for the Indian Navy. From the lessons learned during the LCA Navy Mk1 programme. The TEDBF programme will be streamlined and optimised with the help of the knowledge gained in creating this fighter jet for aircraft carrier operations, which could result in quicker development and lower costs.

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