Giving his thumbs up to HAL’s Tejas, Indian Air Force (IAF) chief Arup Raha on Tuesday had his first sortie in the Light Combat Aircraft (LCA), after which he called it a “good aircraft for induction”. “It is my first sortie in Tejas, it is a good aircraft for induction into IAF operations,” Raha said.
Raha flew the indigenously designed and produced LCA Tejas for about 30 minutes at the HAL airport. Group Captain M. Rangachari was with him in the twin-seater trainer aircraft.
The Air Chief Marshal carried out manoeuvres in the entire flying envelope of the aircraft. He carried out simulated air to air and air to ground attacks. He also assessed the advanced modes of the radar and Helmet Mounted Display Sight (HMDs).
“An ace fighter pilot himself, Air Chief Marshal Raha appreciated the flying qualities of the aircraft. He congratulated the entire team of HAL and others involved in getting the LCA program to this stage.,” the HAL release said.
Commenting on the test flight, T Suvarna Raju, CMD of HAL said, “It is a moral boosting gesture from the IAF Chief and reposes great confidence of our valuable customer in our abilities.”
The series production of the Tejas aircraft has already commenced at HAL Bengaluru and the first squadron of the LCA is expected to be formed by July 2016.
The Air Chief also stock of HTT-40 (Basic Trainer) which was parked on the tarmac besides visiting LCA production line and other facilities, the release added.
The Tejas LCA is a supersonic, multirole light fighter aircraft, which has been under development for the past three decades. It has been co-developed by the Aeronautical Development Agency in cooperation with HAL to replace the IAF’s aging fleet of MiG-21 and MiG-23 aircraft.
India needs about 300 aircraft of the LCA, therefore to speed up induction of the ‘Tejas’, the Ministry of Defence (MoD) has decided to upgrade the aircraft with over 40 modifications. With MoD setting a 2018 deadline for making the first upgraded Light Combat Aircraft ‘Tejas’, state-owned HAL is seeking help from Swedish company SAAB.
Earlier this month, T Suvarna Raju told FE, “For enhancing the capability of the indigenous LCA, HAL is in talks with the SAAB.” “By June 2016, our company will hand over the fourth aircraft to the IAF. The four aircraft will make up for the first squadron of IAF which will be used for training,” he added.