LCA Tejas Joins The Big League! Ready To ‘Dogfight’ Typhoons, Gripens In 1st-Ever Multinational Drills

Following the spectacular performance at the Singapore Air Show, India’s indigenous aircraft LCA Tejas is set to train with some of the world’s best fighter jets including Eurofighter Typhon, F-16, Saab Gripen as part of multinational air drills in the UK, which will be held from March 6 to 27.

The Indian Air Force said on Wednesday that it will send five Tejas fighter jets to a multilateral exercise hosted by the Royal Air Force of the United Kingdom. The Indian Air Force further added that the Tejas jets will take part in Exercise Cobra Warrior at the Royal Air Force base at Waddington.

IAF’s C-17 aircraft will provide the necessary transport support for induction and de-induction.

This is apparently the Tejas’ first deployment to a multinational exercise. The Indian Air Force’s Light Combat Aircraft (LCA) Tejas, as well as fighter aircraft from the United Kingdom and other leading Air Forces, will take part in the exercise.

The details regarding the LCA’s mid-air refueling on its way to the United Kingdom is unclear. Three “Tejas” aircraft, however, flew to the Singapore Air Show with three external drop tanks, covering a 300-kilometer ferry flight.

Moreover, during the demonstration, the emphasis was on displaying the capacity of the lightweight fighter’s long-range ferry.

At the Aero India international air show in early 2021, the Defence Ministry signed up a contract for the manufacturing of 83 Light Combat Aircraft (LCA) Tejas fighters with Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL).

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

Cobra Warrior Drills

Ex-Cobra is one of the Royal Air Force’s largest annual exercises, and it is designed to train pilots and other professionals in the planning and execution of complex airborne operations.

During the drills, the air forces communicate best practices to provide operational exposure to each other. This will not only serve to strengthen friendly ties but also to improve combat capabilities.

The exercise represents a number of complex scenarios, with a focus on establishing tactics and plans to combat a near-peer foe, as well as crisis and conflict situations that may arise during operations.

Cobra Warrior is organized annually to “conclude the training of Qualified Weapons Instructors (QWI), Qualified Multi-engine Tactics Instructors (QMETI), QWI Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance (QWI ISR) and Qualified Space Instructor (QSI) students.”

Eurofighter Typhoon During Exercise Cobra Warrior 2021 at RAF Waddington. – Twitter

Besides fighter jets, participating air forces also bring systems like the airborne early warning and electronic warfare platforms to boost collaboration and preparedness.

India, the United States, Sweden, Saudi Arabia, and Belgium are among the participants, in addition to the host country, the United Kingdom. The ‘Ex Cobra Warrior 22’ will also serve as a major platform for the LCA Tejas to demonstrate its agility and operational capability, as well as to explore its export possibilities.

Gripen fighter jets from Sweden, F-16 fighter jets from Belgium, and Typhoon and Tornado fighter jets from Saudi Arabia are among the aircraft expected to participate in the drill. In 2019, RAF Waddington in Lincolnshire hosted more than 50 aircraft from around the world for high-intensity tactical training.  

During Exercise Cobra Warrior, the Royal Air Force usually deploys its Eurofighter Typhoon to operate with other air forces’ fighter jets. The UK forces trained alongside personnel from Germany, Israel and Italy. Several Israeli F-15s flew together with UK Typhoons, Italian and German Eurofighters for the first time in the RAF’s 101-year history.

According to experts, given the nature of the drills, it would be a great experience for the Indian LCA Tejas fighters to engage with some of the world’s best fighter jets in multilateral air force exercises.

Both in terms of operational exposure and marketing, LCA Tejas is bound to gain significant exposure from the UK drills.

This would be an incredible opportunity for Tejas to demonstrate its prowess on the global stage. Tejas has piqued the interest of a number of friendly countries, and India is eager to sign its first export deal for its indigenous aircraft.