Tejas all set to get certification for IAF induction

Almost 30 years after it was conceptualized and 20 years after funds were released for it, India’s indigenously designed and developed frontline fighter aircraft, Light Combat Aircraft (LCA) Tejas, is all set to get the Initial Operational Clearance (IOC II) here on Friday that would pave the way for its induction into the Indian Air Force squadrons.

Though, the 14 aircraft that have been produced by Hindustan Aeronautics limited so far have clocked nearly 2,500 hours of flying, some of the 11 having flying capability would again take to the skies on Saturday in the presence of Defence Minister A.K. Antony during a function at the LCA-LSP Hangar of HAL , where the IOC II would be handed over by the Centre for Military Airworthiness and Certification (CEMILAC) to the Indian Air Force.

Director General Aeronautics and Chief Executive of CEMILAC Dr. K. Tamil Mani told The Hindu that Tejas was the best aircraft in the LCA category. Apart from being the lightest, with a gross weight of just about 9 tons, it was also the most cost effective as its price ranged from between Rs 170 and Rs 180 crore, which was almost a third of similar fourth generation aircraft.

He said the aircraft is capable of carrying nearly three tons of weapon systems, including laser guided and 500 kg bombs, has a top speed of 1,350 km per hour, capability of withstanding 7 G gravitational force and a 400-500 km radius of operation. However, before it is inducted, the Air Force wants the aircraft to improve its angle of attack from 24 degrees to 28 degrees, possess capability for refueling in air and to possess modern missile systems.

Made of composite materials, which weigh less than a fifth of metal, the aircraft has marked India’s entry into a select group of nations that can build such flying machines from scratch.

Dr. Mani said the LCA project has been developed at a cost of nearly Rs 10,000 crore. The aircraft are likely to go into series production and be inducted into the Air Force in the first half of 2014.

To meet the growing demand, the HAL would be ramping up the production from 4 aircraft in 2014 to eight each in the following two years and 16 in the years thereafter. By 2016, the IAF is expected to raise its first squadron of Tejas LCA aircraft.

While Tejas seeks to mark India’s entry into the 10 ton aircraft category, it is also a technology demonstrator for the nation and has even showed the country’s resilience in standing up to the challenges of denial of technology, as was experienced when the United States had banned the supply of critical flight control equipment in the wake of the Pokharan nuclear tests, said Technology Director of Aeronautical Development Agency, V. Subbu Rao.

Mr. Rao, who has been associated with the project for 26 years, said “entire design and concept is ours and the Mach 1 LCA is better than its contemporaries such as Mirage 2000, F-16 and Gripen.” Moreover, he said, with not a single accident the aircraft has shown a high degree of durability.

Though Tejas have been equipped with GE engines, efforts are on to use Indian Kaveri engines on it. However, the lower thrust provided by the Indian engine remains an area of concern. The Indian engineers are also trying to develop their own radar system for the aircraft, which to begin with would be fitted with Israeli systems.

Mr. Rao said while the development of Tejas has taken a long time, it has led to the creation of huge log data on problems faced. “We are now in a better position to develop the fifth generation fighter aircraft, which come with stealth technology and super cruise, as also the Advanced Medium Combat Aircraft, which is at an advanced design stage.

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Printable version | May 18, 2022 11:30:44 pm |