Recent developments on LCA – Tejas
It took an extended time period of almost 30 years for the development of the Light Combat Aircraft (LCA), Tejas. Over these years, the project cost had mounted up to around 173 Billion Rupees.
Although this LCA has recently been rolled out for the use of the Indian Air-force, the delay of 30 years on the development was mainly because of the wars that India had with its neighbors during the 1960’s and 1970’s. It is also said that even though this LCA has been finally rolled out, it would still take another year to get the final clearance.
The HAL or the Hindustan Aeronautic Limited is the aircraft manufacturer, and the ADA or the Aeronautic Development Agency is the sole developer of the LCA.
What is LCA – Tejas
The HAL Tejas is a multirole light fighter developed by India. It is a tailless, compound delta-wing design powered by a single engine. It came from the Light Combat Aircraft (LCA) programme, which began in the 1980s to replace India’s ageing MiG-21 fighters. Later, the LCA was officially named “Tejas”, meaning “Radiance” by then Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee.
The Operational Clearances For Light Combat Aircraft – Tejas:
- The Initial Operational Clearance (IOC), which verified that the aircraft is fly-worthy or can fly, was given to Tejas on January, 2011.
- It got its Second Operational Clearance in December, 2013.
- Tejas’ Final Operational Clearance, which verifies and confirms that the aircraft can fight or is combat worthy, is expected to go through around December 2014 to mid 2015.
What Does Indian Air-force require?
- The weapon system in the LCA should undergo intensive trials,
- It should possess the capability of air-to-air re-fuelling,
- There is also the need for 2 squadrons of 40 LCAs, including 8 trainers,
- The first squadron is to be operational by 2016
- Development of the next version, that is, of Tejas Mark 2 with the GE F414 engine, will be made available in not less than 10 yrs from now
The Distinguishing Features of the LCA, Tejas:
- The General Electric F404 engine, imported from the USA, was given by Ronald Reagon during the cold war days, has provided Tejas Mark1 a curtailed agility. It can be equipped with short range missiles, with action range of 400 km radius. It is also be equipped with laser guided 500 kg bombs,
- It is the lightest fighter aircraft in its range, with the engine weighing as low as 9 tons,
- The unique feature was that there was not even a single accident during its trails, which basically reflects its reliability,
- This LCA is found to be far better and efficient than other counterparts in its range, like the Sweden’s Gripen and the French Mirage 2000 fighter air-crafts,
- At the manufacturing cost of Rs.180 cr/plane, it is almost 1/3rd of the cost of the other cheap fighter aircrafts developed anywhere else in the world.
- 1/3rd of the parts of the plane were imported, yet that amounts up to the total manufacturing costs of a mere Rs.180 cr. Hence, it has a low operational and manufacturing cost, making it the most efficient option.
Finally, it’s worth mentioning as,
What the rolling out of this incredible Light Combat Aircraft means for India:
- It represents the definitive next step for Indian Air Force in their efforts towards the indigenization of the military hardware,
- It acts as a stepping stone for the development of the 5th Generation fighter aircrafts, and also for the development of Advanced Medium Combat Aircrafts.
- The launch of the LCA, Tejas also signifies that India has mastered the complete cycle of Design-Development-Production-Manufacture-Testing-Evaluation-Induction.