What are Light Combat Aircraft?

Light Combat Aircraft

What are Light Combat Aircraft?
What are Light Combat Aircraft?
Light Combat Aircraft or LCA is a fighter aircraft that is on the lower side of weight, cost, and other features. Also known as light fighters, the aircraft provides cost-effective design and performance by selecting specific features according to requirements. A well-designed LCA can also match heavier jets and that too at a lower cost. LCAs are thus considered as strategically valuable assets.

Why LCAs are important?

One of the major aims of LCAs is to address the standard air-to-air fighter effectiveness needs at minimum cost. These requirements, in order of importance, are:
 
1.  Element of surprise
 
Surprise is a significant advantage. It is to be aware of your target before they are of you. Historically, in about 80% of the cases of air-to-air kills, the victim was unaware of the attacker till it was too late. Small fighters are not visible to opposing pilots beyond a distance of 6.4 km. In comparison, larger fighters are visible to a distance of 11 km. Also, smaller fighters take longer to be visually acquired even when they are visible. These factors put the LCA pilot in a better position to fire the decisive shot first.
 
2. Numerical superiority
 
Numerical superiority in the air is also a major factor in any combat situation. Low cost, low maintenance help in producing more aircraft, which also boosts producing more pilots.
 
3. Superior maneuverability
 
Owing to their smaller size, LCAs have better maneuverability. Better maneuverability helps in getting into better positions faster to fire and score the kill.
 

Why LCAs are important?

 
One of the major aims of LCAs is to address the standard air-to-air fighter effectiveness needs at minimum cost. These requirements, in order of importance, are:
 
1.  Element of surprise
 
Surprise is a significant advantage. It is to be aware of your target before they are of you. Historically, in about 80% of the cases of air-to-air kills, the victim was unaware of the attacker till it was too late. Small fighters are not visible to opposing pilots beyond a distance of 6.4 km. In comparison, larger fighters are visible to a distance of 11 km. Also, smaller fighters take longer to be visually acquired even when they are visible. These factors put the LCA pilot in a better position to fire the decisive shot first.
 
2. Numerical superiority
 
Numerical superiority in the air is also a major factor in any combat situation. Low cost, low maintenance help in producing more aircraft, which also boosts producing more pilots.
 
3. Superior maneuverability
 
Owing to their smaller size, LCAs have better maneuverability. Better maneuverability helps in getting into better positions faster to fire and score the kill.
 
4. Weapon systems effectiveness
 
This is one area where the LCAs have a disadvantage. LCAs are powered by single-engine and thus have lower combat load capacity. However, a superior maneuverability and better element of surprise can ensure better positional advantage to make use of the weapons.
 

HAL’s Tejas LCA

In India, state-run Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL) has produced India’s first self-made LCA, Tejas. It is a single-engine, 4th generation, multirole light fighter designed by the Aeronautical Development Agency (ADA) in collaboration with HAL’s Aircraft Research and Design Centre (ARDC) for the Indian Air Force and Indian Navy. The fighter development started in the 1980s to replace India’s ageing MiG 21 fighter jets.
 
Currently, Tejas Mark 1 and Tejas Mark 1A are at various stages of production and induction. By 2025-26, HAL is expected to be ready with Tejas Mark 2 for series production.

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