The Tejas Mk1 versus the Kfir Block 60

A Tejas Mk1. Photo courtesy of Edar Amarkar
A Tejas Mk1. Photo courtesy of Edar Amarkar

The Indian manufacturer of the Tejas aircraft recently announced that it is pegging the price of that aircraft at USD 26 million,1 which puts it near the price range of the Kfir Block 60 which is selling at USD 20 million. The relatively low price of the Tejas means it is more affordable for our budget-conscious Air Force and thus worthy of consideration, hence I am starting this informal evaluation of the Tejas by comparing it to the Kfir Block 60.

‘Aircraft Background’
The Kfir is based on the Mirage III/5 delta-winged aircraft whose blueprints were stolen by the Mossad (as is now detailed in various spy books and articles2), and is described as an all-weather, Multi-Role Fighter aircraft. It was made by the Israel Aircraft Industry (IAI) and first entered service in 1975, seeing extensive combat duty with the Israeli Air Force before finally being retired by the IAF in 1996.

A total of 220 Kfirs were built, and currently the air forces of Colombia, Equador and Sri Lanka are still operating the aircraft. All Kfirs being sold now are taken from the mothballed stocks of the IAF, but are refurbished and upgraded with advanced avionics plus a 40-year manufacturer’s guarantee. The latest version in the market is the “Block 60″ equipped with an Active Electronically Scanned Array (AESA) radar, the EL/M-2052.3

The Tejas was developed indigenously by the Indian company, “Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL)” and is described as a light, multri-role combat aircraft. It is intended to replace the MIG-21 Bison in the Indian Air Force (IAF) inventory, and had a very long development history, first being conceived in the early 1980s with the first prototype flying only in 2001. Despite that first flight over a decade ago, the aircraft is only scheduled to start entering service in 2015 with the IAF who ordered 40 aircraft. No export orders have yet been received for the Tejas, and only the Indian Navy is projected to be its next customer with an initial order of six aircraft. The current version is the “Mk1“, with an improved “Mk2” version in development with a longer fuselage, larger wing, a more powerful engine and higher payload.4

‘Evaluation Notes’
For the “Maneuverability” and “Payload and Range” sections, the following considerations were made:
– Weights with 100% internal fuel was used to try to simulate the aircraft going into combat with full internal fuel after dropping their External Fuel Tanks.
– The weights of the armaments were not included as the RATIOS and DIFFERENCES BETWEEN BOTH AIRCRAFT will remain the same if they will be armed with the same type and same number of armaments.
– Fuel density of 0.81 kg/l was used to convert fuel capacity to kilograms
– Data for each aircraft was derived from various websites at 5 6 7.

For both aircraft’s maneuvering capability, I am looking at their LIMIT LOAD FACTOR*, WING LOADING* and POWER TO WEIGHT RATIO.* I would’ve wanted to take a look at more aspects like Stall Speed, Maximum Alpha, etc., but those data are hard to come by for both aircraft. Hence, these should suffice for now. Remember that a lower Wing Loading means the aircraft can turn tighter and vice-versa, and a higher Thrust-to-Weight Ratio means the aircraft can go faster going straight up or straight down and vice-versa.

  • POSITIVE LIMIT LOAD FACTOR: Favors the Tejas slightly by 7% as it is rated up to 8G while the Kfir is only limited to 7.5G
  • WING LOADING: Favors the Tejas with 10% lower wing loading compared to the Kfir
  • THRUST TO WEIGHT RATIO: Considerable 17% advantage for the Tejas in terms of TTWR

+++ The Kfir already has a lower wing loading than most aircraft I compared so far, but the Tejas can turn even tighter due to having the same wing area, but having a lighter weight, thus driving that wing loading value lower even more.

+++ In terms of TTWR, the Tejas not only is lighter, it has a slightly more powerful engine, hence providing a TTWR of more than 1 even with a full internal fuel load. Overall, the Tejas is the more maneuverable aircraft.

‘Payload and Range’
For Range, I am using INTERNAL FUEL FRACTION (INTFF)* as a rough indicator how far each aircraft can go based on the internal fuel available to them.

The Kfir’s IntFF value was multiplied by 0.87 to reflect the estimated 13% more fuel consumption of its J79 Turbojet Engines as compared to its later, more efficient version, the F404 Turbofan Engine. For more explanation of this, refer to a special section at the bottom page**

    INTFF: Favors the Tejas by a third (33%), indicating it can travel 33% farther for the same engine fuel efficiency.
  • PAYLOAD: Favors the Kfir this time as it can carry a commanding 54% (2,306 kg) more load than the Tejas.

+++ The Tejas can travel further, but the Kfir can carry more load, so this would be somewhat even in my book. The Tejas’ 4,282 kg payload capacity is no slouch, though.

An IAI Kfir. Photo courtesy of ATM Online thru Flickr
An IAI Kfir. Photo courtesy of ATM Online thru Flickr

‘Air Combat-related Avionics and Weapons’
Here I am comparing the capability of both aircrafts in terms of Within Visual Range (WVR) and Beyond Visual Range (BVR) air combat thru their Avionics and Weapons available to them. Just some notes, though:
Radar Cross Section (RCS) data are for “clean” aircraft, with no armaments or fuel tanks
– No solid references for the RCS and detection ranges for the Kfir B60. RCS is taken from an obscure internet reference, while detection range is just estimated to be 25% higher than the detection range of the EL/M-2032 Radar
– Tracking range is assumed to be 85% of the Detection Range
– Closing velocity of 3,000 kph (equally divided to each aircraft) used to compute for First Look, First Shot advantage
– Missile impact is based on the top speed of its main BVR missiles
– Other data were taken from these websites: 8 9

  • WVR COMBAT: Advantage for the Tejas because of its Fly By Wire (FBW) system
  • BVR COMBAT: Practically EVEN for both aircraft because while the Tejas has less capable radar, it has a much lower RCS than the Kfir, and actually giving the Tejas a theoretical two second advantage in terms of Firs Look, First Shot capability.

+++ The Tejas’ low RCS is impressive at an estimated one-third that of a Mirage 2000, thanks to the extensive use of composites and computer modelling for the shaping of the aircraft’s external structures. This is probably why HAL declared recently that the third version of the Tejas, the Mk3, will be a stealth version.

‘International Relations’
The Tejas clearly is the better aircraft overall based on the above evaluation, but there are other considerations as well not covered above. For one, relations between the Philippines have been lukewarm, at best. There aren’t many Indian tourists or businesses in the Philippines, and vice versa, not many Filipino tourists or businesses go to India. With Israel we at least have the United States as our major ally in common with them, but US-India relations have not really been that great either, especially recently with diplomatic row between them involving an Indian diplomat in the US.10

If anything, India is closer to Russia (which in turn is close to China) than the US, with them getting their newest aircraft carrier, the INS Vikramaditya from Russia11 and co-manufacturing the now famous Brahmos Missile also with Russia.12 These are not showstoppers, of course, but something to be noted of, and more serious issues are present regarding the Tejas.

‘Availability and Service Record’
The more serious issues are AVAILABILITY and SERVICE RECORD. HAL is scheduled to ramp up production of the Tejas soon, but will it be able to meet its schedule? Would it be able to meet additional orders from the Philippines? And what happens if problems and/or accidents occur during introduction of the aircraft into service, how fast will HAL be able to adjust to these? Their 30 year development period of the Tejas does not necessarily inspire confidence that they will be able to adjust quickly and meet their original schedule.

In terms of service record, how reliable will the Tejas be once it goes into military service? How will its accident rate be like, will it be just average, or higher than normal? Remember that the Tejas is not officially based on any fighter design, it is a brand new aircraft design reportedly loosely or unofficially based on the Mirage.

The Kfir is also only “unofficially” based on the Mirage, but at least it already has a track record in military service, a generally fair one, and is still in service in a couple of air forces around the world right now. IAI also commits to be able to deliver the first Kfir within a year upon receiving an order.13

‘Parting Shot’
The Tejas Mk1 can climb or dive faster, turn tighter, has a much longer range and much lower radar cross section than the Kfir. The Kfir’s only advantages are its payload capacity and its AESA radar. HAL took their time developing this aircraft, but you have to give them credit for coming up with a pretty good performer. However, the Tejas Mk1 is mainly unproven without a solid service record behind it, and there are doubts about its availability. For the Philippines right now, the Tejas would be like a “High Risk-High Reward” gamble, whereas the Kfir would be “Low Risk-Low Reward” option.

Personally … I would go with the Kfir, at least for now. The scenario for the Tejas would look something like this:
– Tejas scheduled to enter service in 2015
– Allow at least three years of military service up to 2018 to establish a service record
– Order Tejas in 2019, delivery by 2021

And all this assuming everything goes well with the Tejas, like no production delays, major design flaws or accidents causing major redesigns to occur. On the other hand, if we get our act together and order this year, we could have the Kfir by 2015. The Tejas is just too new, and we need combat aircraft against China like … yesterday. If only the Tejas entered service sooner, like five years ago and established a good service record, then no doubt there would be ahead of the Kfir at least in my book as far as a candidate for our combat aircraft.

The way I see it, though, IF everything goes well for the Tejas and it gets a good track record in military service, then by around 2019 it would likely be a sought after aircraft because of its excellent performance and low price. As it is now, though, it might be just too much of a risk, at least for us …

A Tejas Mk1 in flight. Photo courtesy of miyataka_jp thru Flickr
A Tejas Mk1 in flight. Photo courtesy of miyataka_jp thru Flickr


** The F404 engine was developed from the J79 engine. They have the same thrust rating and specific fuel consumption, but the F404 Turbofan engine is 1,470 lbs. lighter than the J79 Turbojet engine, hence the F404 is more efficient as it will need less thrust for the same amount of weight to fly in the air. To reflect this efficiency, the weight savings is divided by the dry thrust or non-afterburning thrust rating (10,900 lbs) of the engine as the aircraft operates most of the time in dry thrust. Values were taken from the book, “An Introduction to Aircraft Performance by Mario Asselin p. 51”,


  1. HAL pegs price of Tejas fighter at Rs 162 crore,
  2. The ‘Paper Planes’ Caper,
  3. IAI Kfir,
  4. HAL Tejas,
  5. Kfir,
  6. F-21 Kfir, IAI,
  7. Technology Focus Vol. 1, No. 1 – LCA Tejas,
  8. Fighter Mig-21 Fishbed,
  9. Stealth and Tejas,
  10. Kerry, Indian Diplomat Meet After Diplomatic Row,
  11. Russia delivers super aircraft carrier INS Vikramaditya to India,
  12. Brahmos,
  13. At 40 Years of age, Kfir Turns into a “Networked Fighter”,

54 thoughts on “The Tejas Mk1 versus the Kfir Block 60”

  1. The Tejas would have been the best buy but with its uncertainties it truly is a risk. At least with the fa50 it is an F16 clone developed with lockheed. The fa50’s will probably be bought since i recall seeing it in a leaked PAF table presentation for acquisition with deliveries beginning at 2015 and not 2014 as earlier expected (no press release of pnoy signing the contract yet). But still I prefer the bargain buy kfirs. Imagine being able to buy 21 kfirs vs 12 geagles which are combat ready (AESA radars with 3rd party contractor ACM training from Israeli pilots!!!). Israel is one of the most active airforces of the world and nobody in their neighborhood would challenge them in a dogfight.

  2. You can even get the whole lot on 2015 with a 40 year warranty. The PAF presentation says 2x geagles at 2015, 2 at 2016 and 8 at 2017. I hope the PAF took this into consideration.

      1. i still go to the Kfir…at anytime the israeli’s has always been very innovative and the philippines can learn from them. i trust the israeli’s in regards to quality of equipment they are even better than the americans in some areas. when it comes to air force for me the israelis are no. 1. the immaculate records of dog fights of f-15 and f-16 started from them. also Kfirs has also unblemished record.

  3. another interesting to note the columbian air force with kfirs were invited to take part in the RED FLAG in 2012. in that exercise they were able to shoot down 6 f-16s in a mock dog fight. but i rather credit their performance since they are trained by the israelis and secondary the kfir weapon system.

    1. I wonder though how many times the Kfir got shot down in those exercise. 😀 At any rate, I think the Kfir should be okay for us. Cheap price, decent track record and performance, and ready availability.

      1. hahaha during the Red Flag it do not specify if how many times Columbian Kfirs were also shot down but USAF praised the Columbian pilots of their effort. i dont think also the israelis dont trained the Columbian pilots well, since it also their pride to train them using the Kfirs. as a matter of fact before the scheduled Red Flag the Columbians were given one year to prepare. the Israelis might have given the tips how to use the advantage of the Kfirs against the other fighters. the trainers are Israelis my friend, sometimes there are many things the Israelis have done that makes the impossible, possible.

  4. The only problem for the kfir for me is the fly by wire. I dont know if it has because the geagles have quadruple fly by wire redundancies mentioned in its specs but the kfirs dont say.

    1. No FBW for the Kfir as far as I know, so this would make the FA-50 easier and safer to fly. But I read that modern AJTs like the FA-50 can be programmed to simulate another aircraft’s performance closely so the pilot trainees can learn better when they transition to the MRF …

      1. so the stick is attached to hydraulics? Can’t iai install fbw? just add 1m to the price tag for it? sigh. anyways we can dream. fa50’s are the ones with the moa. i just cant get over their puny radars and short range missles.

      2. Not sure if its that easy to integrate FBW into an aircraft. At any rate, I have formally asked IAI if the Kfir Block 60 has FBW, I hope they answer …

      3. Well, what do you know, I actually got an answer from Israel Aircraft Industries (IAI) today, and they confirmed that the Kfir Block 60 uses Mechanical Controls …

  5. Even with “lukewarm” relations, I doubt there would be any serious political hold-ups on the part of the Indians to sell if we actually committed to buy. I can’t recall any serious diplomatic incident between both countries. I don’t think the Chinese can convince the Indians not to sell us arms. Of course India is our rival when it comes to the BPO industry.

  6. I dont get it a lot of folks would always point the need to buy a LIFT like the FA50 before we buy a MRF like the Kfir, Grippen, of Falcon. I can see the logic behind it, but what I cant understand is why do we have to buy 12 units of such, (FA50), why not only 6 units?, then buy 12 units of KFIR MRF. Its almost of the same price right (if not buy the Texan close air support plane instead of the Tucano to save more money and allocate it to this project), its practical and it will address the security needs our nation immediately. Just imagine having 12 units of KFir in 2014 or 15 and 6 units of FA50 2015 or 2017 is better than having 12 units of FA50 in which 8 would be delivered in 2017 (man thats too long, and the KAI is making us so dependent and dumb ), 18Kfir jets block 60 is up for sale (they are all combat ready)it will take less than a year to procure them if we have the money. The AFP should first give priority to numbers instead of quality of fighter jets (48 is the minimum deterrent force of fighter jet that we must have according to the US department of Defense), after having such then we could shift to quality fighter jets that could be used for specialized role/s.

    1. I agree. I think the afp got the fa50 deal because the koreans bundled it with possible purchase of frigates. They also think the kfir would be too old which is true but with a 40 year warranty and training with Israel? Who could beat that? Hopefully in that 40 year warranty period we could buy more modern mrfs. Remember that Israel only has 50 to sell. Unfortunately geoplolitics is to blame and the dnd for not doing a better cost benefit analysis of this purchase. I think the airforce would be the cheapest defensive posture we can muster. Remember the Battle of Britain. Nobody could touch the UK because they had the best planes and pilots. Even if we have the least powerful navy but we have a strong air force they would not dare go near us.

    2. The FA-50 can double as Surface Attack Aircraft, and besides, the more aircraft, the longer we can have them. We bought 24 S-211s more than 20 years ago, and now only 5 are in flyable condition. If we buy only 6, they won’t last 2 decades with us.

      1. A valid assumption. Just watched the korean movie tribute to top gun “back2base” and i was kinda sad. Not because the movie sucked and starred Rain but because i saw that we were laughably behind any airforce whatsoever. Unlike topgun which focused on tom cruise and the f14 this movie showed the f15,t50,fa50,its ground crew, cnc, sar even airforce pilot housing in action. Even if it exaggerates it goes to show just how massive the support system should be. Remember that most of these people are just conscripted. We need engineers, technicians, analysts, pilots etc. If we don’t do this now the length of time we need to catch up becomes even longer. They’re flying f15k’s and were flying ov10’s. Btw the fa50 was used not as a fighter but as a ground attacker only.

  7. i rather go with the kfir…with the israelis we will not go wrong…cheap kfirs with capability of BVR (capable of AMRAAM), helmet mounted sight and avionics and weapons system of a 4th generation fighters and we will be trained with the most experience fighther pilots in the world (in WVR and BVR) the determining factor is no longer the plane but the pilots. if an old MIG 25 was able to shoot down an f-18 in a BVR during the Iraq war, the kfir block 60 designed by the israelis is more capable to shoot down any 4th generation fighters flying today.

    1. I agree with you, we will never go wrong with the best air force behind us . If the Philippines have a squadron or two of these fighters stationed in our western borders no intruder, not even those yellow men would dare infringe on our EEZ. Ditch the FA50s and get those KFirs.

  8. if trained by israelis our air force pride will be restored and one thing we could be the best of asia..let the Lion of David come to us….they might have the statistics or advertisement how good their fighters but they dont have the reality what is a real dog fight…it is only with the israelis that have it, not even the americans can equal their achievements. the immaculate records of the f-16 and f-15 started from them…

  9. I love the new look. i have two suggestions though. 1st: I think it is much better if you put the name before the comment (most are on this format). 2nd: increase the right border, don’t let the text fill till the right of the screen. Thanks for the blog. I always enjoy reading it. By the way this is my first comment in your blog. 🙂

    1. Thanks, Juan, I’m glad you liked it. Unfortunately I’m using a free theme from WordPress, and customization is very limited. They are selling customization as an option, still thinking about buying it for this blog …

  10. The no fbw will be a hard sell for the kfir and a possible deal breaker but still I’d rather go with easily serviceable mechanical parts and aesa radar with bvr/wvr weapons than a computer based fbw with no bvr capability and limited wvr with terrain following radar. Might as well get the Ta50 instead and scrap the Tucanos and use them as OV10 replacements. It seems that the Colombians didn’t need fbw at Red Flag. Might I suggest that we can deter the Chinese simply by joining Red Flag or contracting Israeli pilots for ACM training. I remember a long time ago the PAF had dog fighting exercises with F5’s using guns only in the 90’s and were pretty impressive. Btw, what the hell is keeping the President from signing the damn contract? Nag MOA pa tayo. If we’re getting the Geagles just sign the damn downpayment thing.

    1. The TA-50s are a lot LESS survivable than the FA-50s because of their lack of Warning and Countermeasure systems. In fact, it was my curiosity about what differentiates the Geagle family that prompted me to write about it on one of my future blogs. If we want our trainers to double as effective and SURVIVABLE Surface Attack Aircrafts also, from the Geagle family the MINIMUM is the FA-50 …

    2. Actually, as I wrote in my blog I didn’t think the 52% down payment requirement would be the showstopper, but embarrassingly for me it seems it IS the showstopper right now. For some reason it seems PNoy just doesn’t want to release that much money for the FA-50s …

      1. That would be embarrassing. Signing a MOA then not doing it at all. That means the ta50i of Indonesia is basically strictly a fast jet trainer. A better chance for the kfirs, used block 52 f16s, used cf18s or the gripens (fingers crossed). If pnoy is so insistent with the low downpayment then we get less fa50s instead and mix it up with other mrfs. The master is good but its only supersonic at a dive. I suggest another blog site WAR IS BORING which discusses different issues about military hardware,conflicts,offbeat military engagements, military secrets and issues internationally in an informal way. It turns out the US just upgraded our OV10s to carry jdams and smart munitions in its article US WAS AT WAR IN THE PHILIPPINES. We also have been the testbed for small scale uav prototypes preceding the predator drones. Btw, the US is retiring its first gen AC130’s maybe we could get some hehehe:)

  11. whatever, without the fbw the columbian kfirs showed they can dog fight with figthers with fbw. how about if the israelis where the ones of those kfirs?. now i believe, with a good pilot and upgrade weapon system there’s no doubt, its still
    the pilot who will dictate the survivability of the aircraft.
    one example, the original f-15 started with a mechanical flight control system but later on was augmented by an fbw.but according to the pilots of the f-15, its just fine the plane can be flown without the computers or fbw. its fine we can have a fighter with fbw but fa-50 vs the kfir and the battle tested kfir is only $20m, guaranteed upon signing a contract in a year we can have a full squadron, 40 years warranty and we will be trained by the israelis…scrap the contract with the fa-50. initially, buy 18 kfirs and get 6 346 trainers.

  12. another example survivability of an old mechanical system, during an iraq war an f-111 was pursued by a MIG-29 but the pilot of the unarmed f-111 is hard to crack, out maneuvered the more agile MIG-29 resulted its crash. how about if the weapon system is almost even…then its the pilot who will dictate. now i do believe the kfir with its new avionics is at par or better than any fighter with fbw now flying just let the israelis trained our pilots. this is a good opportunity, but it will only come once, if we will lost it, dont really know whats on our mind since these is already offered to us in a silver platter…how about we will learn from the israelis why their sherman tanks are still moving, their A4s are still in service, or how we can engage missile gun boats against major warships. and how to engage in 2 fronts and win the war out numbered in all aspect men, tanks and planes. or we might get their Saar missile gun boats the most powerful gun boat in the world. we have a lot to learn from the israelis more than the equipments we can get from them.

  13. Practicality, the KFIR is the best option the PAF has on the table as of now. But because of that MOA with Korea the IAI KFIR is a longshot. Let’s just hope our generals and pnoy know what they are doing. We must get an MRF/LIFT asap because technology is getting more and more advanced and our 40 year old pilots and technicians are not getting any younger and they might join PAL or Cebu Pac instead. We are a long way from creating a minimum credible defense posture in SEA.

  14. ok procurement of the FA-50 is a done deal. but the FA-50 regardless what its specification its still not capable to face any MRF in china’s inventory so not a credible deterrent and it might make china more aggressive just to test the capability of the FA-50. but i still feel our air force must be given top priority of the procurement. since the first procurement do not suite the immediate need of a credible air defense, how about slash a budget of the navies procurement of 2 new frigates and divert it to buy at least 20 KFIRs. in todays warfare i believe a strong air force can determine the conduct of warfare. in the missile age remember the falkland war. the argentines using A-4s were able to penetrate the defense of a more hi-tech missile firing naval ships of the british at that time, resulted to the sinking of 2 destroyers, 2 frigates, 3 support ships and damage a number of naval ships. if without the aid of the americans, the argentines could have sunk more war ships. now, the argentines are interested to buy 24 KFIRs, these give shivers to the british because they know the capability of the KFIRs block 60. and the timing is just right, the british will be retiring their last aircraft carrier (invincible) this year and due also the retirement of its harriers, the british do not have a single carrier capable fighter and unlike the last war where the argentines have no refueling capability, this time the KFIRS can give them that advantage.

    1. No, the Tejas is not India or Hindustan Aeronautics Limited’s (HAL) first indigenous aircraft, they have developed the Marut Jet Fighter and Dhruv Helicopter also.

  15. how about the Mirage 2000-5 or Mirage 2000-9? i think that UAE will be looking for customers because they’ll be purchasing the Rafale.That will have the same speed as the KFIR.

    1. I’d rather go for the Tejas. Mirage’s and Kfir’s obsolete airframes and engines will keep it ineffective and uneconomical nomatter how much updated electronics you stuff in them. Tejas is a work in progress constantly being improved by Indian and French engineers. Israel also has substantial inputs on its weapons and flight systems. And it’s going to use the GE-414 engine. In some ways it could even be more superior than the Gripen.

    2. Rant Mode, ON.

      The Mirage 2000 is a pretty good aircraft, but the problem is not with the aircraft, the problem is the Philippines. As I said in a blog before, we simply have problems maintaining old or 2nd-hand aircraft.

      Supposed to be our best bet of maintaining a 2nd-hand aircraft is with the F-16s because they are so numerous worldwide that parts availability would be cheap and numerous. But if that was the case, then how come did the Philippine Air Force refuse the purchase of several F-16 aircraft a couple of years ago?

      Nobody is going to sell to you a 2nd hand fighter aircraft that is in pristine condition, of course you will need to refurbish them first and then spend money to maintain them later. However, if we can’t even do that to a prolific F-16, then simply forget about all other 2nd hand aircraft out there.

      The Kfir is different because the manufacturer went all out of its way to market it as a refurbished aircraft with the promise of long term logistical support, so unless Dassault does the same for the Mirage 2000 then just forget about those planes.

      Our choices simply boils down now to new aircraft like either an F-16C Block 50/52+, F-16C Block 60 or Gripen E because at least they are new and would be flyable and will require light maintenance for a couple of years. But then these are supposed to be too expensive, hence we can’t buy new ones because of cost, and we can’t buy 2nd hand aircraft also because of cost.

      Actually I feel that F-16C Block 50/52+ aircraft should be within our budget. Greece bought theirs for only USD 77 million per aircraft, so for 12 aircraft that’s USD 924 million, or P 41.5 billion, which is a LOT lower than the P 351 billion the government is spending for the country’s Flood Control Projects. See the difference there, P41 billion to P 351 billion?

      At any rate, let’s just hope for a good administration after PNoy to finally be able to buy us more advanced aircraft.

  16. I once read that one of primary concerns of the DnD regarding fighter jet purchases is streamlining the maintenance and logistics costs. This will be done by assuring commonality of parts between the LIFTs and MRFs particularly in the powerplant systems. So if we start from the FA-50, our heaviest bet for the MRFs are the ones using the GE-404/414 family. Obvously its going to be the Gripen but I’m not counting out the Tejas just yet.

    The Tejas can potentially outperform the Gripen in BVR combat due to its smaller size and lower RCS. They got rid of the stabilizer fins as a compromise to this advantage but once GE comes out with the vectored thrust variant of the 414, it’s going to be terrifying in WVR maneuvers as well. I admit that the Tejas has a long way to go in terms of development, but the tactical principles it’s trying to achieve in the realm of A2A combat will take it several steps ahead of Gripen. If air superiority can be won through the numbers game, low RCS, and pilots making excellent teamworked BVR maneuvers through datalink, i will vote Tejas over the Gripen.

    1. If the Tejas proves itself well during operational service the next couple of years, it will be a good alternative for the Philippines simply because it is relatively cheap. Whether it is better to the Gripen E in terms of performance is another matter …


    The Tejas will be carrying the EL/M-2052 instead of the EL/M-2032.That would make the Tejas more potent probably increasing it’s advantage against the IAI KFIR.The question should be are we wiling to be the HAL’s “lab rat” if we are going to be the first to export the Tejas.Though personally I think the Tejas aren’t a very attractive aircraft(aesthetic wise),I thinkk it is very potent having the Python/Derby Missiles and the French Mica missiles.

    1. On paper the Tejas seems like a very good aircraft, but just too risky for us. Let the other countries become the Guinea Pigs to test it first …

      1. All brand new jets have risks the moment they come out of the production line. Even entire squadrons of F-35s have to be grounded so that Lockheed can perform its obligations under the service warranties, the Tejas won’t be an exception. I think it’s enough that the Indians will allow reasonable demonstration of its performance and capabilities before we are given a choice to purchase them, then hold them accountable for any faults that will occur during its operation.

        It’s even an opportunity for us to get a capable aircraft at a bargain price. Otherwise, if we just wait until the Tejas proves itself in combat, its price would have gone up considerably due to demand.

      2. Yeah, but the difference is that Lockheed Martin has an established record of making quality aircraft, and that the F-35 is a cutting-edge technology aircraft. HAL, on the other hand, has only made 1 indigenous aircraft before the Tejas, and they are taking quite long (around 3 decades) to develop an aircraft whose technology is not really cutting edge, so to speak.

      3. With the advanced system that they just installed on Tejas, I don’t think it’s far behind technology wise, I doubt that the F-35 will be substantially more capable. Maybe just a marginal advantage but this is will be negated by the low RCS, low visual observability, and the shere number of forces we can bring to bear against external threats. If we just consider the fly-away cost, why settle for a half squadron of F-35s that will always leave gaps in our defenses when we can have 3 squadrons of HAL Tejas at the same price and give us more tactical flexibility. HAL will probably give us discounts on a few homegrown Rafales if we patronize their products now. The Indians designed this LCA with a single purpose of outperforming not only the J-10s and Su-30s of China, but also the the F-16s and JF-17s of Pakistan in BVR combat. This is really helpful especially if Taiwan turns traitor and decides to use force to legitimize their claim on Itu Aba. As for Kuala Lumpur’s Su-30s, we don’t have to worry. We have Jakarta guarding our butts.

      4. At this point in time, its kinda hard to realistically consider if we can really afford F-35s. I mean, we can’t even afford to buy F-18Es, and then suddenly we are talking about F-35s. At any rate, it won’t be fully operational for some time, so I just can’t bring myself to consider it …

  18. Just landed upon this thread, and very happy to know that Tejas has been discussed here in this super active blog at Philippines.
    @rhk111 : really liked your writing and you have a fantastic blog !! . I just have started with a few articles and it is really nice to see the perspective from that part of the world. I am not a defense geek like you but have been very active in few of our defence forums in my country India. (Now you know how I landed on this page)

    1. Glad you liked my blog, peterjim13. Frankly, aside from the fact that our government is now actually buying military equipment, one other thing that inspired me are the Indian bloggers who have been using radar and other data to blog about military equipment that your government is buying. Obviously India spends more on defense than we do, so your bloggers tend to discuss a lot more advanced stuff than I do, but it is from reading their blogs that I got the idea to start some for the Philippines also …

      1. Thanks for your response rhk111. In response to one of the older comments in your blog on this topic, I could read “I don’t think the Chinese can convince the Indians not to sell us arms. Of course India is our rival when it comes to the BPO industry.”
        True that China cannot influence India in any of their decision making, especially with export of strategic equipments to Chinese Rivals. A good example would be Vietnam looking at purchasing BRAHMOS cruise missiles from India, to safe guard their South China Sea interests. Also take India’s Oil Rigs in the Vietnamese Waters.
        Another would be India’s offering of Stealth Frigates to Philippines ( I am not updated on the status of the same thorugh).
        India’s look East Policy is actually bringing countries along South China Sea together, and India has also granted the export of Both Indian and other Russian Hardware Made in India including the training of personnel and sale of spares.
        Also Tejas would now participate at the Bahrain Air Show held this month which will help potential customers review the highly capable, low cost, and one among the safest fighter planes in the Market.

        Note : I am not aware of the BPO rivalry with Philippines and India. This is news 🙂

  19. I think that our best bet is used f-16’s, we can easily get them from america, the kifrs lack fbw, not sure if a used f-16 also lacks fbw too though, but some kifrs would also be nice

  20. So after seeing Tejas’s performance in Bahrain airshow what PAF feels about it ? Have you already started buying fir or whats the status of your search for light multirole jets ??

    1. We are changing Presidents in June 2016, so it is dependent on the next President. The Tejas is a long shot, though. The DND’s favorite is the Gripen, and then there is also the affordable refurbished F-16Cs …

      1. Affordable refurbished F-16s would be worthy choice for PAF.
        But I think if things go well, Govt of India could extend a credit line to make Tejas more affordable for PAF if there is a possible sale scenario. This coupled with the Frigates can be something GOI could think of. Which they usually do to enhance relations with nations like Vietnam, Sri Lanka, Myanmar etc.
        Tejas did receive a good set of inquiries in Bahrain. Though the deliveries may only start by 2018, it might depend on the necessity of the buyer.
        On the other hand HAL would be more than happy to have more buyers for Mk-1s as that may help in retaining the production line and should surely make them more affordable. (thats the whole point behind Tejas, which is actually meant for exports)

      2. Personally I think the Tejas is okay, but my main concern there would be the radar. The speculated ranges of the ELM-2032 or even the ELM-2052 are not as good as that of the APG-66 or APG-68 on the F-16Cs. A South Korean poster has been trying to say otherwise here on my blog, but based on the Antenna Size and Power Output, the lower ranges seem to be more plausible.

        Another issue about the Tejas is its Operational Record. The F-16C and Gripen have proven records for Durability, Reliability and Serviceability while the Tejas doesn’t have that yet, and I am not sure if the Air Force and DND will take be willing to take that chance.

        But, at any rate, we’ll see. If the MRF pushes thru in the next Administration, then it is possible that the Air Force and DND will take a closer look at the Tejas if the price is right. In the brand new, light fighter market, the FA-50 and the Tejas seems to be the best available out there right now in terms of performance and capability. Both I expect are cheaper than the Gripen, and they are brand new compared to second hand F-16Cs.

        Between the Tejas and the FA-50, the Tejas has much better weapons and equipment integration assuming it has BVR missiles and Helmet Mounted Sights …

  21. Yes you are right on that side. I think things will get better as Sri Lanka looks to be the first export customer, along with a handful across South East Asia and Latin America.

    In terms of operational record, it is true that it does not have any operational use to portray but, its safety record is world renowned. The 120 of them Indian Air Force has ordered will put them on real tests, and another challenge would be whether HAL would be able to supply export needs as their priority would be for domestic use.
    Surely there will be a private player who would take up part of the manufacturing to reduce HALs load.

    As you said, lets wait and see.

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