Chinese media ‘spitting venom’ on India’s native jet; Sarcastically compares it with the J-10, J-20 aircraft

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The Indian Air Force’s (IAF) third ranking in the World Directory of Modern Military Aircraft (WDMMA) has sparked angry reactions from Chinese netizens. India’s LCA Tejas appears to be in the firing line as the Chinese vent their anger on social media.

While Indian media hailed the ranking, Chinese outlet Sohu was abuzz with disillusioned users questioning the IAF’s ability. A Chinese report alleged that the WDMMA lacked information on the PLA Air Force, leading to the IAF being given a higher ranking.

The WDMMA used a formula that took into account values ​​related to the air force’s total combat strength, the EurAsian Times noted. One message pointed to “Make in India” and mocked LCA Tejas which has become, over time, the poster boy for the indigenization of Indian defence.

The post claims that the Indian government has always insisted on the importance of ‘Made in India’, and yet the LCA Tejas was a disappointment. Subsequently, the Indian light combat aircraft was compared with Chinese PLA Air Force J-10 fighter jets.

While the two planes are vastly different in class and combat capability, EurAsian Times decrypts Chinese netizens’ claims and examines the arguments.

File Image: IAF Tejas Fighters

Is Tejas late on D-10?

LCA Tejas was conceived as a concept in the mid-1980s, and by the early 2000s had taken its maiden flight. On the other hand, the J-10 was designed around the same time but made its first flight in 1998.

Additionally, the J-10 was made operational in 2005 and officially introduced by the Chinese government in 2007.

On the contrary, Indian manufacturers produced several prototypes of Tejas, and after extensive testing, it was officially introduced in 2015, and the first batch became operational in 2016.

At that time, Chinese social media users claimed that China had unveiled the log and upgraded the J-10A and J-10B variants and its most advanced J-20 stealth fighter jet. An advanced variant of the J-10, the J-10C was also later launched and has since been exported to Pakistan.

File:Chengdu 10.jpg - Wikimedia Commons
Chengdu 10 (via Wikipedia Commons)

The Indian government has also placed an order for 40 variants of Tejas in “initial” and “final operational clearance” configurations, which are in preparation. The first of the Mk-1A aircraft is to be delivered in 2024, while the entire delivery is to be completed within the next nine years.

A more advanced variant, the Mk-2A, is also in the design and development phase.

It is therefore true that while the LCA Tejas and the J-10 entered development almost at the same time, the LCA Tejas program ran into rough waters and fell behind the J-10 fighter jets and its three variants.

LCA Tejas against J-10 fighter jets

The LCA Tejas is a fourth-generation single-engine, lightweight, multipurpose supersonic aircraft produced by Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL) for the Indian Air Force. On the other hand, the J-10 is a single-engine, medium-weight, multi-role aircraft designed by the Chengdu Aircraft Design Institute (CADI).

Both aircraft are capable on their own. However, the development, deployment and upgrade trajectory of the J-10 has been more consistent, while the HAL aircraft has lagged due to delays. Both the J-10 and the Tejas represent the techno-industrial efforts of the two countries.

The J-10 was a heavily redesigned, modified and reverse-engineered version of Israel’s Lavi program, which saved the Chinese from having to create an entirely new aircraft. Under pressure from the United States, the Israelis had to suspend Lavi.

The LCA Tejas, on the other hand, received very limited support from Dassault in the late 1980s, with the rest of the development carried out entirely by Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL), despite significant technological challenges, as previously noted by EurAsian Times.

J-10B
A J-10B carrying PL-10 and PL-12 air-to-air missiles. (Wikipedia)

Both aircraft have single engines and delta wings, with the J-10 being significantly longer and taller. It had ventral air intakes, front canards and low fenders. The Tejas Mark-1A has a high-wing layout with side air intakes, making it smaller and more agile.

The J-10 has been in service since 2005, with more than 500 aircraft from the J-10A, J-10B and the most sophisticated J-10C – in service. The LCA Tejas Mark-1A, on the other hand, was only ordered last year, and the IAF will receive 83 from 2024.

The J-10B was a thrust vector variant that flew with indigenous WS-10B engines, giving it superior mobility in dogfights. The J-10C, the most advanced variant of the aircraft, was also incorporated into the native WS-10 engines.

PLAAF J-10C fighter jets (via Twitter)

Some experts claim Tejas has an advantage in high altitude combat, sustained turn rate, climb rate, and cruise speed because it requires less thrust to maintain sustained flight. A better engine, which is apparently in the works, may even improve its low thrust-to-weight ratio.

The smaller cell of the LCA Tejas also gives it a slight advantage in battles within visual range (WVR), where it becomes harder to locate.

AESA (Active Electronically Scanned Array) radars are integrated on the J-10 B and C, as well as on the LCA Mark 1A and the future Mark 2. The Tejas Mk-1A and Mk-2A variants should be equipped with the locally developed system . Radar Uttam AESA, a groundbreaking announcement that was made in December last year.

The J-10B and C can fire the medium-range air-to-air missile, the PL-10 and the ultra-long-range PL-15 Beyond Visual Range (BVR) missile – the latter outperforms all missiles of its class in the world 300 km, according to Chinese claims.

Tejas-Singapore
Indian Air Force Tejas performs during the opening ceremony of the Singapore Air Show on February 15, 2022.

In contrast, the LCA Mk-1A will be able to launch BVR missiles like the Derby, and this capability is already included in current Tejas. For the Mk-1A, a locally developed BVR missile (ASTRA Mk 1) was chosen.

The Indian Defense Research and Development Organization (DRDO) successfully installed Israeli Python-5 air-to-air missiles on the LCA Tejas. According to DRDO, the Derby BVR air-to-air missile is also being tested to demonstrate its extended potential.

In addition, India has also ordered HAMMER Missiles of France to improve the capabilities of its LCA Tejas jets.

Tejas – More reliable than Chinese jets?

Although the two fighters are somewhat comparable, Western experts have called the Indian LCA Tejas a far more reliable aircraft than anything Beijing can offer.

Western observers believe that Chinese planes are mostly based on stolen and reverse-engineered technology, while the LCA Tejas is powered by indigenous and proven Western technology.

The fighter is a shining example of international cooperation, according to Foreign Policy magazine. The Tejas’ F404 engine was supplied by GE, and Israel Aerospace Industries supplied the fighter’s radar and electronic warfare (IAI) equipment.

The report further states that even though the program encountered several hiccups during its formative years, it is now on the right track.

However, the Indian Air Force is currently the only customer for the Tejas, with 123 aircraft soon to become part of the Indian fleet.

On the other hand, the Chinese J-10 is in service with China and Pakistan, the latter having only recently received the J-10C variant.

It has been widely believed that China has armed its all-weather ally Pakistan with the advanced J-10C to counter the power of India’s Rafale jets, as noted by EurAsian Times.

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