Analysis:- Does LCA Tejas posses stealth?
HAL Tejas, the indigenously developed single-engine lightweight multirole fighter and has been known to possess some degree of stealth features integrated onto it which makes it a contemporary 4+ Generation aircraft designed for multirole combat.
Tejas’ airframe is made up of advanced composite material (45% of airframe i.e. almost half of the structure and 90% of surface area) which is a bad reflector of radar wave so reduces the radar cross-section. The dielectric composites (with presence of ferrites) are more transparent to radar than electrical conductive materials such as metal.
[just as an example, F-22 Raptor has around 1/3 of its structure made up of composite material]
Possessing a Radar-Cross Section of 0.5-meter square, it has the lowest RCS among single-engine fighter jets of its class like Saab Gripen and F-16. Features have been integrated into the airframe to give it considerable stealth to avoid early detection. It possesses smooth upper wing-body blending, a feature possessed by Fifth Generation Aircrafts like J-20, F-22, Su-57 and other 4.5 generation aircraft like Eurofighter Typhoon and Rafale.
This results in corner reflections from the AWACS radars searching from above resulting in lower RCS with missiles and external sores hidden under the wing. (as there are no corners formed when the flat wings get attached to cigar like fuselage in old fighters designs like Mig-21, JF-17 and Mirages) .
The fuselage is pinched near wing root after the air intake, to obey the Whitcomb’s area rule for a coke bottle like shape to reduce supersonic wave drag. The high wing body fuselage blending is implemented from behind, resulting in smooth bouncing off of searching radar waves.
It also uses Y-intakes which suppresses the radar waves as engine blades are a prime contributor to high RCS.
It also utilizes ITO Indium-Tin-Oxide Coating on its canopy to minimise radar waves return from the cockpit as radar waves entering the cockpit can contribute to the RCS of the aircraft substantially. The ITO coat is used as an electromagnetic wave shield window which scatters radar waves in various directions so as not to be detected by radar and also prevent a harmful electromagnetic wave from entering into the aircraft.
Tejas has a smooth upper wing body blending i.e. having no clear dividing line between the wings and the main body of the craft (possessed by other modern aircrafts like Rafale,Eurofighter Typhoon,F-22,PAK-FA and J-20 as well). This helps to avoid early detection as the corner reflections from AWACS aircrafts searching from above resulting in lower RCS.Tejas design also incorporates a high wing body fuselage blending implemented from behind, resulting bouncing off of searching radar waves from behind.Tejas design also incorporates a high wing body fuselage blending implemented from behind, resulting bouncing off of searching radar waves from behind.
Tejas has an Electronic Warfare suite. It includes a radar warning receiver (RWR), Missile Approach Warning (MAW) and a Laser warning receiver (LWR) system, Infrared & Ultraviolet Missile warning sensors, self-protection jammer, chaff, jaff and flares dispe
Tejas being single-engine is less vulnerable to IRST and heat-seeking sensors. Its low silhouette also gives it an added advantage during dogfights as it is lesser visible to enemy aircraft during close-range encounters.
Tejas will incorporate AESA radar and already has BVR missiles like Derby (and Astra in future). Tejas has small RCS already and having these radar and armaments, it will be able to detect enemy aircraft from far and launch attack and needs not to go close. So it will decrease RCS.
Global Chinese media outlet ” Chinatopix” claimed that its small size provides an inherent degree of visual stealth. Excessive use of Radiation-absorbent material coating ( RAM ) also helps in absorbing radar waves. Tejas has much lesser RCS than any of IAF fighters like Su-30 MKI, Jaguar, Mirage 2000 and Mig-29.
India’s indigenously developed Radiation-absorbent paint first applied on Soviet-era supplied Mig-21s had proven the reduction of its signatures considerably on Ground Radars.
Tejas no doubt will live up to the spirits of Indian Air Force as a light, lethal and multirole machine.