India puts more fuel into its HAL Tejas fighter project. With officially 220 of the indigenous developed light combat aircraft (LCA) on order, Indian media quote sources within the Indian Air Force indicated on 12 February 2014 that the branch seeks additional funds for almost 300 Tejas jets in total.
The Air Force top brass wishes to equip 14 front-line squadrons with the Tejas, designed and built by the country’s own Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL). Each squadron will have 16 single-seat fighter and 2 dual-seat operational trainers, making 252 Tejas LCA’s. An addtional 42 are wished for as attrition replacement, bringing the total number up to 294. Even the Indian Navy seems interested, with might mean another 40+ Tejas of the yet to develop shipborne variant.
Within the Indian Air Force the Tejas is due to replace the remaining aging 125 MiG-21 of the Bison standard. The Tejas plans are extra interesting, since India currently has no finances available to continue with its planned French Rafale fighter purchase.
Test & delivery
The LCA Tejas test aircraft performed 500 sorties in 2013, from the airfields of Leh, Jamnagar, Jaisalmer, Uttaralai Gwalior, Pathankot and Goa. The aircraft were tested in cold weather, armament and weapon deliveries, multimode radar (MMR), radar warning receiver (RWR), hot weather and missile firing flight trials this year itself. Two aircraft flown three sorties each on the same day during trials at Jamnagar in October and November 2013 to demonstrating a speedy turnaround time capability. The weapon tests took place at Jamnagar and Jaisalmer.
The HAL Tejas reached its Initial Operational Clearance (IOC II) on 20 December 2013. The first deliveries are planned to start in 2014, with a procurement plan for eight to sixteen aircraft a year.
© 2014 AIRheads’ editor Marcel Burger with additional information provided by HAL
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