Omni Role Combat Aircraft (ORCA)
The design of the Omni Role Combat Aircraft (ORCA), an Air Force variant of the Twin Engine Deck Based Fighter (TEDBF), with significant design differences, was being studied as of 2020. This variant would weigh a ton less than the Naval variant since it would not need heavy reinforced landing gear required for operations from the deck of an aircraft carrier. The first flight of the TEDBF is targeted for 2025-26 with the fighter expected to be inducted into the Navy by 2031.
The total design and development costs for twin engine variants of the Tejas fighter would cost less than Rs.13,000 crores with each fighter for the Navy costing in the range of Rs. 538 crores. The Indian Air Force variant of the fighter would cost between Rs 35 crore and Rs.71 crores less than the Navy variant. The development time-scale for the project has been pegged at six years from the time initial funding has been provided.
Both the Navy Twin Engine Deck Based fighter and the Air Force Omni Role Fighter would host several indigenous sensors and avionics which are now at an advanced stage of development. This includes an Active Electronically Scanned Radar (AESA) which can simultaneously track targets in the air and out at sea or over land with great precision. All the fighters would be built with made in India data links and communication systems which would enable the jets in a formation to securely exchange critical sensor information during a mission. A host of made-in-India weapons including long range variant of the Astra air to air missile which has recently completed tests would arm the jets.
ORCA will feature Diverterless supersonic inlet (DSI) air intakes just like seen in F-35 and J-20 fighter jet. The rounded bump of the DSI compresses and redirects the oncoming boundary lawyer airflow that otherwise causes airflow disruption in the engine. A DSI can be optimized for any Mach number and Mach 1.6 seems to be the right spot for the ORCA. Mach 1.6 speed could have been arrived at by also incorporating S-shaped duct arrangement which is known to limit high-speed flight to around Mach 1.6-2.0 based on the aircraft design and category. Medium Weight Fighter (MWF) design did not feature a DSI intake but it could be adopted in MWF too since MWF and ORCA have heavy design influence.
The Medium Weight Fighter (MWF) was first to feature Canards and it seems ORCA will also carry forward the same close-coupled canard configuration to benefit a supersonic delta-wing design of the aircraft which will bring stability to the aircraft design. some of the other advantages of Canards are that it reduces take-off distance, can act as air-brakes while landing and also reduce wing-loading.
ORCA will be first to feature Conformal fuel tanks (CFTs) to reduce the aerodynamic penalty compared to external drop tanks. Two additional advantage of the using CFTs is that aircraft’s radar cross-section will see marginal improvement and it also frees up additional hard-points but some of the major disadvantages of CFTs are that it cannot be discarded in flight like drop tanks once it is empty and it also imposes slight g-load limits.
ORCA will have 13 Hard-points which is 2 more then what was seen in the Medium Weight Fighter (MWF) and 5 more Hard-points than LCA-Tejas Mk1 and Mk1A. As seen in the above picture is the weapons load pointed and it seems to be in a Standoff Strike configuration. ORCA has Four hard-points under each wing and Four on the Fuselage and One reserved for the Targeting pod. Use of Dual-Pylons in weapon load is highly likely since the weapons load is close to 9 tonnes.
Harsh Vardhan Thakur, Test Pilot with HAL greeted his followers on occasion of New Year 01 Janaury 2020 along with a render of fighter aircraft from his Twitter account what seems to be a first official render of Twin-engined fighter jet but still leaving many confused and unanswered questions. ORCA features Canards as seen in MWF and also IRST and IFR in almost the same position as seen in the MWF Scale model displayed at Aero India 2019. Nevertheless, it’s a great design in the render with some glarring errors. Assuming the image is properly scaled, the engines are too close to each other and the fuselage too narrow for two F414 to fit. Andreas Rupprecht noted: "I tried to scale the width of the cockpit section (= 30 pix) and added a second F414 as proposed just look at the red lines, there is no chance to fit two." Also the length bit short to maintain good area ruling for a twin jet.
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