Tejas surmonts a major hurdle- gets the much awaited Initial Clearance

21 Dec 2013, dilip Comments: | Views: 3142 | | Category: India Defence

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Video of the Tejas IOC-II Event

A joyful moment for all those who were waiting for years (rather more than a decade since the first prototype flown  in 2001)  puzzling "When will LCA Tejas take to the Air Force..." . The much awaited IOC-II finally succumbs and LCA tejas finally gets in to Indian Air Force.

On 20th december,2013 the Defence Minister Shri AK Antony  handed over the Release to Service Certificate of the country’s own Light Combat Aircraft (LCA), Tejas, to the Chief of Air Staff Air Chief Marshal NAK Browne, at a function in Bengaluru, marking the fruition of a long and difficult journey of three decades of efforts to make a fighter aircraft of international standards.

Described as Initial Operational Clearance-II of Tejas, the LCA is designed to ultimately replace the Mig 21 fleet of 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.

Visibly happy at the event, Shri Antony said, during the last three years, the capabilities of the aircraft have 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.

Shri Antony candidly confessed that he 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.

“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.

Shri Antony said military aviation in the country has 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, to name a few.

Describing the attainment of Initial Operational Clearance as an important milestone in the long journey towards indigenization through self-reliance, Shri Antony said, our public and private sector must work in tandem to develop and produce world-class military systems of the highest quality.

The Chief of Air Staff Air Chief Marshal NAK Browne said it is indeed a proud day for the nation and particularly for the IAF; since the grant of IOC acknowledges the capabilities of this aircraft and paves the way for the induction of LCA Mk 1 into operational service. He said the progress of such a challenging experimental project without any accident or major incident is unprecedented in the history of aviation.

On a personal note, ACM Browne said as he prepares to hang 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.

Better Late Than Never...

The idea to develop an indigenous aircraft started in 1983 and serious work started on developing and budget sanctions came in 1993. So it is three decades since the conception. But in projects of such magnitude and complexity it is always Better Late than Never. Now with such an experience gained, we can develop future crafts with much more confidence. Without LCAs project our Airforce would have been dependent only on import of technology spending billions. Whatever 25,000 crores of ruppes spent on the development - significant amount should have gone into developing our country's infrastructure, technology and skill bank. Read in brief about the LCA Project...

Production Time...

Till date as per the information available, around 17 Aircrafts including Limited series productions, Prototypes (Navy and Airforce) have been manufactured by HAL. The LCA production group engaged in the production of Limited Series Production (LSP) aircraft during the last five years functioned as an extended arm of the design and development team with large scale modifications introduced into these LSP aircraft in terms of hardware, system improvements and software in a progressive manner as per concurrent development and production concept.

With most of the aircraft system performance reaching desired levels, HAL production group would concentrate on stabilizing the production line. All hardware improvements and software modifications as a result of trials on LSP series aircraft are now being incorporated into series production aircraft.

As per the HAL's website the production line at HAL has been moved to new premises with a built up area of around 28,000 Sq m of Hangars, Engineering and Administrative blocks. Upgrade and augmentation of production tooling is underway to enhance the rate of production and to expedite delivery of aircraft for two IAF squadrons in the next four to five years

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