LCA to Graduate to Next Level with OBOX

Defence Industry

New Delhi: In yet another feather in its cap, the indigenously-built Light Combat Aircraft (LCA) Tejas will be graduating to the next level with the installation of the On-board Oxygen (OBOX) generating system by December or early 2020, said a scientist from Defence Electromedical & Bio-Engineering Laboratory (DEBEL), under the Defence Research & Development Organisation (DRDO).

Almost a year after a successful mid-air fuelling of the Tejas, the LCA Mark-1 (Mk-1) of the Indian Air Force, which enables aircraft to be airborne for longer durations, DEBEL researchers have developed the onboard oxygen generating system, OBOX, to help keep the pilot fit and alert for an equally long duration with continuous supply of oxygen while on high altitude, long-distance flights.

“As of now, a fighter pilot is airborne with a bottle of oxygen, a cylinder that comes with the aircraft, which has the capacity to last an hour at the most, before coming back to base to get it replenished. However, with the OBOX, oxygen will be available throughout, as long as the engine is running,” he said.

The IAF had initially ordered 40 LCA Tejas aircraft with Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL), which is manufacturing the aircraft after the Aeronautical Development Agency (ADA) completed its design and development phase.

However, in 2018, the IAF placed a further order of 83 LCA Tejas aircraft at a cost of about Rs 50,000 crore.

Tejas has been built using advanced composites with an eye on reducing its weight while enhancing the life of the components.

The box will suck the bleed air which is being thrown out of the engine along with the exhaust, and then processes it through sieves. Nitrogen is separated through this ‘absorption process’ and pure oxygen is generated.

“We have successfully completed lab trials. Now it is to have flight trials. Which is expected by the end of this year or by 2020. After that, this will be fitted on the Tejas,” he said.