After being in developmental phase for two decades, Light Combat Aircraft (LCA) Tejas will make its second attempt to gain Initial Operational Clearance (IOC) on December 20.
The Tejas, ever since the aircraft programme began in the year 1993, has been projected to become a worthy successor of the MiG-21 aircraft. However, the LCA programme has been dogged by several hurdles, which include technical ones.
The last and the most recent one was in January 10, 2011, when the LCA programme was supposed to get IOC but was given partial clearance (IOC-1) as it failed to meet the IAF’s requirement.
During the ceremony, the then Chief of Air Staff Air Chief Marshal PV Naik expressed his displeasure over the aircraft, stating that it was only ‘partially complainant’ and that to meet the Air Force’s requirement, it would need several refinements, which include wake penetration tests, all weather clearance and lightning tests.
Now, two years later, the Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO), ahead of the December 20 IOC-2 ceremony, is confident that the aircraft has met all the requirements that the Air Force had put forth in 2011.
“The LCA has operated in all weather conditions during the trials. Its Angle of Attack (AoA) has been increased from 19 degrees to a certain degree specified by the Air Force. Besides, wake penetration tests have been carried out and engine relight capabilities have also been tested,” DRDO spokesperson Ravi Kumar Gupta told dna.
He added that the LCA project, for which Rs7,000 crore has been spent till date, after attaining IOC will pitch for Final Operational Clearance (FOC), which makes it squadron ready. This is likely to take place by the end of 2014.
Meanwhile HAL, which will manufacture the aircraft for the Air Force, said it has already started making preparations for the production.
“We are in the process of streamlining various productionisation activities, which would lead to ramping up of production rate. The production line at HAL has already been moved to new premises with a built-up area of about 28,000 sqm of hangars, engineering and administrative blocks. HAL has plans to initially produce eight aircraft per year. Further plans are afoot to enhance the production rate to 16 aircraft per year in consultation with IAF and MOD. HAL is fully geared up to meet the challenging production schedule and hopes to fulfill the requirements of customers in a time bound manner,” said HAL chairman RK Tyagi.