With the phasing out of MiG-21 Type 77 aircraft from its fleet, the Indian Air Force is now seeking to obtain initial operational clearance (IOC) for Light Combat Aircraft 'Tejas', which is developed by HAL, Air Chief Marshal NAK Browne said here today.
Simultaneously, the IAF is also getting ready to start the project for LCA Mark-2 aircraft, in collaboration with HAL and DRDO. "Tejas will achieve the IOC soon. They will take one more year thereafter for induction. The 48 LCAs being produced by HAL will be coming to the IAF. There will be two squadrons for this," Browne said.
Talking to reporters on the sidelines of the Combined Graduation Parade at the Air Force Academy, Dundigal, near here, the IAF chief pointed out that the LCA Mark-2 would be the real LCA. "The Mark-2 will have a more powerful engine, radar system, air-to-air refuelling capability and advanced weapons. By the time induction of LCA Mark-1 is over, test flights of Mark-2 will also begin. The IAF is very much involved with this project along with HAL and DRDO," Browne said.
After reviewing the combined graduation parade of 202 commissioned officers, the IAF chief noted that all cadets completed the basic course for Pilatus PC-7, the basic trainer aircraft inducted into IAF in May this year. "For the first time we have finished the basic course for Pilatus PC-7 and 55 hours of flying training was given to all cadets. During the course, the first lady cadet got the first in flying on Pilatus, which is very creditable. The boys and girls are happy with the aircraft and the training," he said.
The IAF chief informed that from the next training course beginning in January, a simulator would also be available for PC-7. "The training will be combined on the aircraft as well as the simulator. First PC-7 commissioned officers will be passing out from the AFA in June next year," Browne added.
He said the IAF so far received 26 Pilatus PC-7 aircraft. "Every month, we are getting two-three aircraft. By middle of next year, we will be getting 38 to 40 aircraft and hopefully by end of next year all 75 Pilatus aircraft will be available to the IAF," the chief said.