Production of India’s Light Combat Aircraft (LCA) Tejas is likely to increase to 16 aircraft a year from 8 at present following the handing over of the aircraft to the Indian Air Force today.
Defence Minister Manohar Parikkar formally handed over the indigenously made fighter to the IAF Chief Arup Raha marking its entry into squadron service of the IAF.
Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL) has proposed to scale up production to roll out 16 aircraft a year at a cost of $2 billion. HAL will invest 50 per cent, while the IAF and the Indian Navy will share the rest of the cost equally as per the proposal, according to media reports.
The Indian Defense Minister, Manohar Parrikar had last month stated that the Final Operational Clearance for Tejas is expected by the year-end.
Tejas got its first Initial Operational Clearance (IOC-I) in January 2011 from HAL. The aircraft had some limitation in combat performance, turnaround time and weaponization and was referred for R&D refinement.
IOC-II was granted in December 2013 after extensive flight trails for weather, armament and weapon delivery capabilities and IAF started flight tests.
The LCA project has so far cost $2.75 billion dollars to the exchequer and started in 1983.
The handing over of the aircraft is seen as crucial as IAF is looking it as a replacement for its aging Russian Made MiG-21s.