A decade after it first took to the skies, India's ambitious Light Combat Aircraft (LCA) “Tejas” will get the Initial Operational Clearance (IOC) on Monday, paving the way for its formal induction into the Indian Air Force.
It was on January 4, 2001, that the Technology Demonstrator (TD) flew 18 minutes on its first sortie and since then ten aircraft including prototype vehicles and limited series production (LSP) have logged over 1,450 hours.
Defence Minister A.K. Antony will be at the function at Bangalore on Monday where the IOC will be given — a step forward in the country's quest to design and build aircraft indigenously.
The progress of the LCA is one of the projects which Mr. Antony has monitored closely, concerned as he is over several questions raised on the efficacy of the project sanctioned in August 1983 with Rs. 560 crore. The revised cost of the project now stands at Rs. 5,777 crore. Earlier this year, the Minister said that despite all the prophecies of doom, “I can assure, and can at last declare: LCA is going to be a reality”.
In 2006, the IAF contracted 20 LCA from Hindustan Aeronautics Limited at Rs. 2,700 crore in IOC configuration and the delivery of the first batch of two LCA was expected to be made in March 2011.
With the IOC sanction coming in now, it would take up to two years before Final Operational Clearance could be accorded.