LCA-TEJAS INTERNATIONAL DEBUTE
India has showing its state-of-the-art airborne platforms at the Bahrein International Airshow that was held at Sakir Airbase, Bahrain between the 21th and the 23th of January 2016.
This aircraft is designed and developed by DRDO (Defence Research & Development Organization), Ministry of Defence, Govt of India. The “Tejas” is the latest and state of the art and Light Combat Aircraft (LCA), the “Four-plus” generation and highly cost effective fighter aircraft.
It is noteworthy that for the first time LCA-Tejas was flying outside the country’s airspace at the Bahrein Airshow to create history.
Since making its first flight in January 2001, the Tejas has flown 3063 flights and 1956 hours.
Now R ‘Swami’ Swaminathan, from the Indian Ministry of Defence’s Aeronautical Development Agency (ADA), says the future looks great. “We handled over the first series production (SP) Tejas on January 27, 2015 and three more will follow before the end of March”.
Over 3000 flights have been carried out on 15 Tejas aircraft and a significant maturity on systems has ben achieved. Major capability enhancers that are in progress are the integration of the Air to Air Refueling system; Gun integration and a few remaining weapons being integrated. The Indian Air Force has suggested further enhancements in terms of maintainability, survivability, AESA Radar and new missiles. They have evinced interest in the ordering of 100 aircraft in this enhanced configuration. It is of interest to note that 17 different pilots have flown the aircraft and have expressed intense satisfaction of the handling qualities of the aircraft over the full flight envelope.
The IAF jets will be flown by the Tejas Squadron at IAF Base Sulur in Southern India.
To date, Hindustan Aeronautics Ltd (HAL) at Bangalore has built 16 Tejas light combat aircraft comprising two technology demonstrators (TD-1/2), three single-seat prototype vehicles (PV-1/2/3),
a dual seat prototype vehicle (PV-5), seven Limited Series Production (LSP-1/2/3/4/5/7/8), a dual seat Naval Prototype (NP-1) and a single seat NP-2.
The IAF has 40 Tejas Mark 1s on order, in two batches of 20, with deliveries of the first batch of 20 expected “before 2019”, according to Swaminanthan.
British involvement includes the air-to-air refueling probe and nose radome developed by Coham, and the Martin Baker Mk16G ejection seat.
The naval version of Tejas has an arrested hook installed for aircraft carrier deck operations. A wing modification will allow the pilot to reduce the approach speed for carrier landings, when deflected up. The first navy prototype “NP-1” made it’s maiden flight on April 27, 2012 followed by “NP-2” on February 7, 2015.