New Delhi: Even as the question of Light Combat Aircraft Tejas’ capability to carry its full weapons load remains, Defence scientists are planning to test the fighter’s ability to deliver precision guided bombs.

A series of trials are scheduled in the Thar desert later this year to make the fighter perform high and low altitude runs to deliver precision guided bombs, according to a Defence Ministry spokesperson. Bombing runs by the Tejas would follow the recent successful trials by the fighter to fire air-to-air missiles to mark its weaponisation phase. The fighter is scheduled to get its initial operational clearance by 2010.

The Tejas’ trials with the precision guided bombs follow its hot weather trials at the Air Force Station in Nagpur a few days ago during which it was made to operate in high temperature conditions of over 40 degree Celsius. “All aircraft systems, specifically the avionics system, flight control system and air conditioning system were tested extensively during the trials and functioned satisfactorily on ground as well as in flight,” the spokesperson said.

Two prototypes of the Tejas, PV2 and PV3, performed seven flights of four-hour duration at Nagpur, including flights at 200 metres above ground with speeds up to 1,000 kmph after “hot soaking” the aircraft on the tarmac when it reached “aircraft skin temperature” of 70 degree Celsius.

“In the first test, the Tejas flew 1,000 km non-stop from Bangalore and this was possible through external fuel tanks, also known as drop tanks, integrated on the aircraft. It was also its first flight in high temperature conditions,” he said. — PTI

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