Tejas was primarily built to replace India's ageing fighter fleet of MIG-21 jets that are ingloriously known as the "Flying Coffins". The Light Combat Aircraft (LCA) programme began in the 1980's The then Prime Minister of India, Shri Atal Bihari Vajpayee coined the name "Tejas" to the LCA. Tejas LCA made its first flight on January 4th, 2001, a milestone for the aviation industry in the country.
LCA costs around $33-35 Million* per unit compared to $60 Million* for F-16's and $100 Million* for the Rafale. It is important to note that the CAG had initially listed increased weight, reduced fuel capability, non-compliance of pilot safety norms and reduced speed as some of the critical deficiencies in the aircraft.
Note: The figures depict the flyaway cost only under today's circumstances as suggested by the Thompson report.
LCA is the lightest multi-role supersonic aircraft of its class due to it's inherent advanced electronics, higher number of weapon pylons, digital flight control, improved avionics, swift thrust shifting capabilities and stealth systems used in the jet making it possible to incorporate evolutionary upgrades with ease. These features incorporated heavily in the aircraft makes it a 4.5 generation aircraft.#3. LCA does not belong to the air-superiority class
Tejas has been configured to match the demands of modern combat scenario such as speed, acceleration, maneuverability and agility. It has been built to assist Medium/Heavy Combat air-superior aircrafts such as SU-30 MKI for dogfights. It can also perform interception, escort missions, ground-attack's, battle field air support and night operations due to it's rugged structure apart from air-to-air combats. However, they are never used for deep strikes or covert operations in the enemy territories.#4. LCA Variants can match the latest combat aircrafts in it's class
Though the Current variant of the Tejas cannot match the latest F-16, Gripen JAS 39 or the South Korean T-50 jets, the MK-II & MK-III variant of the Tejas is all set to enter the fifth generaton class of combat aircrafts and is poised to surpass the capabilities in all aspects of it's class.#5. LCA cannot be compared with Pakistan's JF-17 Thunder
Tejas was designated to drive the technology into the fledgling LCA programme. The LCA programme laid emphasis on the use of cutting edge technology, not the production costs. The LCA programme made sure that the ageing MIG-21 fleet was phased out gradually. For Pakistan, the JF-17 Thunder was a much needed breather to replace its old fleet of Mirage-III and Chengdu J-7 Fighters. The JF-17 Thunder is a redesigned and a remake version of Chengdu J-7, which in turn is a clone of MIG-21. Tejas employs carbon composites to make it light weight and durable, while JF-17 uses only aluminium alloys adding weight to the design and decreasing it's durability. The use of LERX in the JF-17's design and clipped delta wings doesn't seem to improve the maneuverability and performance, Tejas airframe sports a complex delta wing with an efficient leading edge blending for smooth handling at higher Angle of Attack's.
The flight control architecture of the Tejas enables relaxed static stability with Fly-by-wire (FBW) controls for all three axes, whereas the JF-17 Thunder has only pitch axis FBW. Tejas makes use of GE engines (F404 and F414) with FADEC (Full Authority Digital Engine Control) which has a higher success rate with F-18 and SAAB JAS-31 Gripen. The JF-17 Thunder depends on Klimov RD-93 that powers India's MiG 29's, which is notorious for its unclean combustion and trail of smoke. It is also astonishing to note that the Chinese themselves have not ordered any JF-17 Thunder to it's airforce.
These proven convictions make Tejas stand in par with most of the 4.5 generation fighters like the Dassault Rafale and Eurofighter Typhoon, while JF-17 Thunder barely makes an entry into the 4th generation class of combat fighters.