India’s first indigenous fighter jet, the Light Combat Aircraft (LCA) Tejas found a fresh stamp on its capability and suitability for being inducted in the Indian Air Force (IAF) on Tuesday when the Chief of Air Staff Air Chief Marshal Arup Raha himself flew in it.
Designed by the Aeronautical Development Agency (ADA) and produced by Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL), Raha, accompanied by Group Captain M Rangachari took a 30-minute sortie over Bengaluru skies after taking off from the HAL airport. Besides maneuvers, twin-seater trainer aircraft, the IAF chief, who is an ace fighter pilot himself, carried out simulated air to air and air to ground attacks in the twin-seater trainer version of the aircraft.
He also assessed the advanced modes of the radar. “It is my first sortie in Tejas, it is a good aircraft for induction into IAF operations”, Raha remarked.
Even as HAL is likely to hand over the fourth Tejas aircraft to IAF by June end, with them, IAF said it “intends to form the first squadron of the LCA on July 1, 2016.” HAL, too, in a statement corroborated that “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.”
HAL CMD, T Suvarna Raju said, “It is a moral boosting gesture from the IAF Chief and repose great confidence of our valuable customer in our abilities.”
IAF has plans to acquire 120 Tejas aircraft and the production plan includes manufacturing of six aircraft this year and scale the production to eight and 16 in subsequent two years. Tejas is expected to replace the aging MiG 21 and MiG 27 aircraft.
The single-engine multi-role fighter recently took part in the Bahrain International Airshow and did successful precision bombing during the exercise. It, however, missed its target on firing the Laser Guided Bomb (LGB) at the mega IAF exercise ‘Iron Fist’ at Pokhran in Rajasthan on March 18.
The sanctioned number of aircraft squadrons for IAF is 42 but currently, only 34 of them are in place while 12 of them are to be phased out by 2020. Source
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