The 'Tejas' LCA has taken 30 years already, at an escalated project cost of Rs 5,489 crore. Since the LCA project was sanctioned in 1983 at a cost of Rs 560 crore, the time overrun has resulted in a 10-fold increase in the project cost.
" The MoD has put on hold the AMCA project that is being spearheaded by Defence Research and Development Organisations (DRDO) Aeronautical Development Agency (ADA). This decision has been taken in an effort to help ADA to focus all its energies to concentrate on completing the much-delayed LCA project," sources in MoD told FE.
"Since most of the capabilities of AMCA are expected to met by the 126 Medium Multi Role Combat Aircraft (MMRCA) and the Fifth Generation Fighter Aircraft (FGFA) in collaboration with Russia, the revival of the AMCA will be a well thought-out one," sources said.
The plan is to ensure that ADA meets its schedule of obtaining the Initial Operational Clearance (IOC) before July this year so that the IAF can take it for a spin. "However, LCA still lacks certain critical capabilities, including a reliable radar, and is deficient in at least 100 technical parameters, due to which it could take till December this year or early next year before it is ready for the IOC," sources added.
Says chief of IAF Air Chief Marshal NAK Browne: "The Mark-II version of the LCA is still four to five years away. The IAF has looked at 40 of the LCA Mark-I variant on the condition that Mark-II will have a more powerful engine. A contract has been signed between the DRDO and GE for this. That programme is still four to five years away."
At present, the IAF has placed an order for 40 LCAs Mk1 to raise two squadrons by 2016-17 with HAL which is the nodal agency for production of Tejas. But these will be delivered with the American General Electric F404 engines which provide only 80 Kilo Newton power.