LCA Tejas test flies for final operational clearance

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Bengaluru, March 18 (IANS) The indigenous Light Combat Aircraft (LCS) Tejas was test flown for final operation clearance (FOC) standard for certification soon, a top official said on Tuesday.

“The home-grown fighter aircraft was test flown for about 40 minutes by our chief test pilot Air Commodore (retired) K.A. Muthana from our airport in the city’s eastern suburb,” state-run Hindustan Aeronautics Ltd (HAL) Chairman R. Madhavan said in a statement here.

Designed and developed by the Aeronautics Development Agency (ADA) of the state-run Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO), the fourth-generation fighter aircraft is manufactured by the defence behemoth (HAL) for deployment in the frontline combat fleet of the Indian Air Force (IAF).

“The maiden flight in FOC standard signifies the team work of the ambitious project, involving various agencies, including DGAQA, Cemilac, IAF and IDA, among others,” Madhavan said on the occasion.

The single engine, delta wing, multi-role fighter, equipped with advanced features such as air-to-air refuelling and beyond visual range missile system, will go into serial production after regulatory certification by Cemilac and endorsement by the IAF for FOC and deployment into its depleted fleet.

“We plan to deliver 15 LCAs in the ensuing fiscal year (2020-21) after securing the FoC soon,” the defence behemoth said in a statement.

The aerospace major is waiting for the IAF order to manufacture 83 Tejas in addition to the 40 aircraft under production for deployment in the combat fleet.

The LCA’s 45 Squadron Flying Daggers is based at the Sulur air base near Coimbatore in southern Tamil Nadu.

The IAF has inducted 16 weaponised LCAs into its combat fleet since June 2018 after its pilots validated its earlier version with initial operational clearance (IOC) by Cemilac in December 2013.

Though the IAF will initially have two squadrons of Tejas with 18 fighters each, it plans to have more of them with an additional 83 of them as Mark-1 version.

–IANS

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