Ravi Sharma

BANGALORE: The indigenous Light Combat Aircraft (LCA) Tejas will, after years of delay, soon be fitted with its primary mission sensor, the multi-mode radar (MMR).

P.S. Subramaniam, Programme Director, Aeronautical Development Agency (ADA), the defence laboratory that is designing the LCA, told The Hindu that “airworthy units” of the Israeli – manufactured MMR would be arriving here early next week for integration into the aircraft. The Elta designed and developed MMR, Elta EL/M-2052 which will be an interim option since India is developing an indigenous one, has already undergone tests on the flight test bed and ground rig in Israel.

One of the most crucial pieces of equipment on any fighter aircraft, the MMR determines the operational effectiveness of the machine, with no fighter aircraft being in a position to perform as one without an MMR.

In the LCA the MMR’s primary role will be to detect and locate targets, process the information, lock on the target and pass this input to the mission computer. From the mission computer this information will be utilised by the pilot as he contemplates weapon release activity. The MMR will also create ground and contour maps when selected.

The long delay in the arrival of the MMR has without doubt pushed the Rs.6,000-crore LCA programme back by many a year. Though initially ADA had intended to use the Ericsson Microwave Systems PS-05/A MMR, it was decided in the early 1990s to indigenously develop one.

But the joint efforts by Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (Hyderabad) and Electronics and Radar Development Laboratory (Bangalore) along with coordination from the Centre for Airborne Studies (CABS) failed to come up to expectations. This resulted in the ADA running weaponisation tests on the LCA with a weapon delivery pod, which is not a primary sensor, being forced to keep critical tests on hold.