New Delhi: The first fourth generation Indian supersonic fighter jet Light Combat Aircraft (LCA) named ‘Tejas’ was handed over to the Indian Air Force (IAF) on Monday in Bangalore as part of Initial Operation Clearance.
Certification by the Center for Military Airworthiness & Certification (CEMILAC) was also handed over to the IAF on the occasion.
The fighter jet has been integrated with fly-by-wire capability, quadruplex flight control systems, and digital glass cockpit among others. “90% of the fuselage is made of carbon fibre composites which enables the aircraft to absorb the radar rays. This means that LCA cannot be tracked on a missile trajectory,” said a flight test engineer of LCA requesting anonymity as he was not authorised to speak to media.
The composites have rendered light weight to the aircraft which fulfills the IAF’s need for low end fighter jet.
“The Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL) would be manufacturing the jet and the first four trainer versions would be delivered to the customer at the end of this year,” said defence minister A. K. Antony. The IAF has placed orders for 40 LCAs scheduled to be delivered by 2014.
The final operation clearance where the fighter version of production standard aircraft would be manufactured by HAL would be given by 2012 said the director of Aeronautical Development Agency (ADA) P. S. Subramanya, where the LCA project has taken shape.
The LCA will be added with weapon system like beyond visual range, guns, rockets, guided and unguided bombs. The entire project of design and development barring the seed money comes upto Rs5,777.56 crore. And each trainer version of LCA would cost Rs210 crore, said HAL chairman Ashok Naik.
The aircraft was in development for 27-year. “The first air staff requirement or ARS was given by the IAF in 1985. However the programme was delayed as the ARS was re-assessed due to developments in technology,” said the air chief marshal P.V. Naik.
The design and development of the LCA was initiated in 1983 with a budget of Rs566 crore by the Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) and Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL).
“The LCA design, developed and assembled in India will become a platform for development of other aircraft and helicopters.” said defence minister A. K. Antony on the occasion.