The home-grown fighter plane combines the best of Russian and French military aircraft

The emergence of the Light Combat Aircraft places India in a select club of nations capable of making their own fighter aircraft, said Defence Research and Development Organisation Director-General Avinash Chander, who is also Secretary, Defence Research and Scientific Adviser to the Defence Minister.

“Today, the first fully indigenously designed fighter can compete with any other fighter aircraft in the world,” Mr. Chander told an audience of over 1,000 engineers and scientists from the Aeronautical Development Agency (ADA), DRDO centres, certifying agency Centre for Military Airworthiness and Certification (CEMILAC) and manufacturer Hindustan Aeronautics Limited as the aircraft got its first of the two-level certifications on Friday. The plane perhaps has the best safety record of no accidents, he said.

Mr. Chander said the LCA must be the only aircraft development programme where mid-course, the engine, radar, missiles and sensors were changed. After receiving the Initial Operational Clearance, the IAF chief, Air Chief Marshal N.A.K. Browne, who retires on December 31, said: “I would have gone home very disappointed if the IOC had not come now.”

The IOC document was handed over to the IAF at the old HAL defence airport, which has been restricted to military and small private charter flights since May 2009.

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