Bangalore, December 20, 2013
India rolls out self-made light fighter aircraft-Tejas
Defence Minister A K Antony today handed over the Release to Service Certificate of the country’s indigenous light combat aircraft (LCA), Tejas, to the Chief of Air Staff Air Chief Marshal N A K Browne, at a function in Bangalore.
The Initial Operational Clearance (IOC)-II of Tejas marks the fruition of a long and difficult journey of three decades of efforts to make a fighter aircraft of international standards.
The LCA is designed to ultimately replace the MiG 21 fleet of the Indian Air Force (IAF). The timing of IOC- II for LCA coincides with the iconic MiG 21 FL fighter flying into IAF’s history just a week ago.
A visibly happy Mr Antony said that, during the last three years, the capabilities of the aircraft had been improved significantly.
“In recognition of the enhanced capabilities, IAF has decided to grant the aircraft a higher status, namely, the Initial Operational Clearance for induction into the service," he said.
The Minister said he had had his share of anxieties regarding the future of LCA when he had taken over as the Defence Minister in 2006.
"But today we are putting behind the moments of self –doubt, frustrations and setbacks which we as a nation have gone through in the last 30 years," he said.
“The improvements to the aircraft have enhanced the flight envelope of the aircraft and also weapon delivery capability of the aircraft. The performance at Iron Fist, Jaisalmer and the recent missile firing at Goa are examples of such improvements.
"The reliability of the aircraft and serviceability has also been enhanced. The number of flights nearing 500 within this year provides an indication of this. Operating at IAF bases namely, Jamnagar, Jaisalmer, Uttarlai, Gwaliar, Goa, Leh, Pathankot demonstrate the aircraft capability to operate from Air Force bases. There have also been occasions when the same aircraft has flown thrice on the same day, indicating the operational reliability of this home-bred fighter aircraft ," he said.
Mr Antony said military aviation in the country had got a major boost with the approval of several new programmes. Some of these programmes include Mk2 variants of Navy and Air Force; Advanced Medium Combat Aircraft; Unmanned Air Systems; Fifth Generation Fighter Aircraft and Medium Transport Aircraft, he said.
Describing the attainment of IOC as an important milestone in the long journey towards indigenization through self-reliance, Mr Antony said the public and private sector must work in tandem to develop and produce world-class military systems of the highest quality.
Air Chief Marshal Browne said it was a proud day for the nation and for the IAF since the grant of IOC acknowledged the capabilities of the aircraft and paved the way for the inductio of LCA Mk 1 into operational service.
He said the progress of such a challenging experimental project without any accident or major incident was unprecedented in the history of aviation.
On a personal note, ACM Browne said that, as he prepares to hang up his uniform at the end of this month, he would have gone home as a disappointed person if the IOC of the LCA had not been achieved.
The event was attended, among others, by the Scientific Adviser to the Defence Minister, Mr Avinash Chander, Secretary Defence Production G C Pati, Hindustan Aeronautics Limited Chairman R K Tyagi, Aeronautical Development Agency (ADA) Programme Director P S Subramanyam and Centre for Military Airworthiness and Certification (CEMILAC) chief K Tamil Mani.
Tejas is the smallest, light weight, single engine, single seat, supersonic, multirole combat aircraft and is one of the best in its class in the world.
The quadruplex digital fly-by-wire flight control system ensures acceptable handling qualities while ensuring adequate safety throughout the flight envelope, an official press release said.
The advanced glass cockpit open architecture system complements piloting. Four variants of Tejas aircraft (Combat variant, Trainer and Naval variants) are being developed for land and carrier borne operations.
The Initial Operational Clearance-1 (IOC-I) for Tejas was achieved on January 10, 2011.
In IOC-I, the aircraft had a few limitations in terms of combat performance, turnaround time and its weaponisation which had to be refined and improved. n addition to this, wake penetration trials, all weather clearances were planned beyond IOC-1.
Since IOC-I, Tejas has accomplished significant milestones. Till date, more than 2450 sorties have been completed to achieve the flight test goals towards IOC-2.
According to the release, the salient features which have been achieved in IOC-2 include safe flying up to high angle of attack as mandated by the users.
This has considerably enhanced the combat performance of the aircraft. The Flight control system evaluation has also been completed. The time for initial built-in test has been reduced considerably which enables faster turn around and enhanced operational readiness of aircraft. The brake system has been improved significantly in terms of energy absorption capability during landing, thus ensuring prompt turn-around of the aircraft. Significant improvement in cockpit ergonomics and lighting system has been accomplished for improved night flying. In-flight re-light capability was demonstrated to ensure enhanced safety and reliability of the aircraft.
Avionics and wepon system of the aircraft have been revamped for effective mission superiority. Helmet Mounted Display Sight (HMDS) has been fully integrated in Tejas and R73E missile firing has been successfully demonstrated using HMDS, the release said.
Multi Mode Weapon multirole capability of Tejas was demonstrated during its participation in Iron Fist. Air to Ground mission and Air to Air missions were demonstrated by dropping Laser Guided Bombs and R73E firing in single pass. Laser Guided Bomb firing has been achieved for IOC-2 to user’s satisfaction, it said.
The IOC-2 will enable the Air Force to carry out air superiority and offensive air support missions, forward air field operations, all weather multi role operations, electronic counter measures and night flying operations.
LCA Tejas is capable of flying non- stop to destinations over 1700 km away (Ferry Range). It`s Radius of Action is upto 500 km depending upon the nature and duration of actual combat.
LCA is powered by the F404/IN20- a well proven turbofan engine, designed and manufactured by General Electric Aircraft Engines, USA.
Poduction facilities have been set up at HAL and the aircraft delivery is expected to commence from 2014.
“We have plans to initially produce eight aircraft per year. Further plans are afoot to enhance the production rate to 16 aircraft per year in consultation with IAF and the Ministry of Defence," Dr Tyagi said.
See News Videos