The Tejas Light Combat Aircraft (Image © Hindustan Aeronautics Limited)

Indian Air Force gets hands on first Tejas LCA

The Indian Air Force (IAF) took possession of the first indigenous-built Tejas Light Combat Aircraft (LCA) on Saturday 17 January. Defence minister Manohar Parrikar handed the aircraft over from state-owned developer and manufacturer Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL) to the IAF. Air force pilots will now try and get the fighter airplane ready for Final Operational Clearance (FOC) towards the end of 2015.

It’s the series production SP1 aircraft that is now owned by the air force, two months after its first flight on 1 October 2014. The ceremony took place in the presence of Air Chief Marshal Anup Raha at the Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL) in Bengaluru.

It is believed that over the next three years, 20 Tejas LCAs will be produced to allow the first squadron to be equipped. So far, fifteen test aircraft have been built, aiming which two double seat trainers. The Tejas is an indigenous to replace dozens and dozens of Indian Air Force MiG-21s, but the project faced delay after delay. The go-ahead for the project was given no less than 32 years ago. The latest milestone was the first ‘dry’ ski jump for the carrier version of the Tejas.

Also, if FOC is achieved, the Indian Air Forces still has a lot of desires left, first among which is  more  a powerful engine than the current GE F404-IN20 engine. A preliminary design review – including the GE F414 engine –  has been made for Tejas LCA Mark-II, with a first flight expected no sooner than 2017.

© 2015 Airheadsfly.com editor Elmer van Hest

The Tejas Light Combat Aircraft (Image © Hindustan Aeronautics Limited)
The Tejas Light Combat Aircraft (Image © Hindustan Aeronautics Limited)