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IAF to sign contract this fiscal to procure 83 LCAs

Big plans: The Indian Air Force is looking at speeding up the production of the LCA.

Big plans: The Indian Air Force is looking at speeding up the production of the LCA.  

Fifth-generation AMCA expected to make first flight in 2032

The Light Combat Aircraft Tejas (LCA) Mark-1A and Mark-2 and 114 new fighter jets to be procured will be the mainstay of the Indian Air Force (IAF) in the next decade, as other jets are phased out, and before the indigenous fifth-generation Advanced Medium Combat Aircraft (AMCA) is ready, IAF sources said.

The IAF is looking at speeding up the development and production of the LCA by Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL).

“We are taking delivery of the last four aircraft in the Initial Operational Configuration (IOC). We are expecting to receive 5-6 LCAs in the Final Operational Configuration (FOC) by March this financial year,” a senior IAF source said. “The contract for 83 LCA Mark-1A will be signed this financial year.”

With the FOC variant being inducted, the second LCA squadron is likely to be formed in the next financial year, By then, the first squadron, now based at Sulur in Tamil Nadu, will shift from there. “All LCA squadrons will initially come up at Sulur for stabilisation and then move out,” the source said.

HAL sources confirmed that an IAF team was now at their facility for the delivery process. “Two aircraft will go in the next few days. Two more thereafter,” a source said.

The source said the production of the FOC variant had started and there were some issues, including in the software, that needed to be stabilised. “At least four FOC aircraft will be delivered by March,” the source added.

The HAL is setting up another assembly line in collaboration with the private industry to increase the production of the LCA from the current eight to 16. The IAF is also keen on speeding up the development of the LCA Mark-2 and the AMCA, which are crucial to maintaining its fighter strength. The LCA Mark-2 should come out in 2022-23, and the IAF is planning to induct them in large numbers.

“The LCA Mark-2 is very important. It is a go between the LCA Mark-1A and the AMCA, which is our indigenous Fifth Generation Fighter Aircraft (FGFA),” the IAF source said.

The AMCA, being designed and developed by the Aeronautical Development Agency (ADA) with the IAF’s support, will initially be powered by two GE-414 engines. It is expected to make the first flight in 2032. “The IAF is not interested in importing the FGFA, we should get one good FGFA on our own,” the source said, a point recently made by IAF chief Air Chief Marshal R.K.S. Bhadauria. “We cannot depend on imports. They are too costly,” the source added.

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Printable version | Feb 21, 2020 7:43:34 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/iaf-to-sign-contract-this-fiscal-to-procure-83-lcas/article29938545.ece

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