The Light Combat Aircraft (LCA) Tejas on Wednesday successfully fired the Astra indigenous Beyond Visual Range (BVR) air-to-air missile off the coast of Goa. On Tuesday, Air Force Chief Air Chief Marshal (ACM) V.R. Chaudhari reviewed the status of the Light Combat Aircraft (LCA) programme in Air Headquarters.
“The missile release was successfully carried out from the aircraft at an altitude of about 20,000 ft. All the objectives of the test were met and it was a perfect textbook launch,” a Defence Ministry statement said. The aircraft was also monitored by a Chase Tejas twin-seater aircraft.
The test launch was monitored by the Test Director and scientists of the Aeronautical Development Agency (ADA), the Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO), the Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL) along with officials from the Centre for Military Airworthiness and Certification (CEMILAC) and the Directorate General of Aeronautical Quality Assurance (DG-AQA).
Astra is a BVR air-to-air missile to engage and destroy highly manoeuvring supersonic aerial targets, designed and developed by the Defence Research and Development Laboratory (DRDL), Research Centre Imarat (RCI) and other laboratories of the DRDO. Defence Minister Rajnath Singh said the launch would significantly enhance the combat prowess of Tejas and reduce the dependency on imported weapons.
On the Air Chief’s review of the LCA programme which also saw senior functionaries from the Ministry of Defence, DRDO, HAL and ADA, the IAF said in a statement, “During the review, it was brought out that all contracted fighter variants of the LCA Mk-1 had been delivered to the IAF.” The IAF has earlier contracted 40 LCA-MK1 in two batches which include 32 single-seat fighters and eight twin-seat trainers. Further, the IAF has contracted 83 LCA Mk1A in 2021 and the deliveries are scheduled to begin by February 2024.
The Air Chief indicated that the LCA Mk 1A could be inducted in a newly raised squadron in one of the IAF’s operational bases, early next year, the statement said. “With timely deliveries of the more capable variant, the LCA Mk 1A is likely to see increased deployments at forward bases, besides participation in international exercises in the days to come,” it stated.
The Air Chief noted that the LCA has been the flag bearer of the IAF efforts towards indigenisation of its aircraft fleet and more importantly a flag bearer of India’s self-reliance in the aerospace sector. Representatives of the HAL assured the CAS of the timely delivery of the contracted twin-seaters in the coming months, as well, the statement said.