The much awaited Final Operational Clearance of India’s Tejas Light Combat Aircraft is again delayed due to non-supply of newly designed quartz radome and a bolt on inflight refueling probe by Cobham UK.
Other than software tweaks, the main difference b/w IOC-2 and FOC standard will involve the integration of a newly designed quartz radome and a bolt on inflight refueling probe, both supplied by Cobham UK.
The quartz nose cone in particular is expected to increase the detection range of the ELTA MMR on onboard from 50 Kms to 80 plus Kms. Cobham has missed three successive delivery timelines (Oct 2014, end of Jan 2015 and April 2015) for both items and was expected to deliver the first of three ordered units by the end of April 2015. That will delay FOC even more.
Defense Minister Manohar Parrikar had handed over to Tejas to Indian Air Force (IAF) earlier this year. However the handing over does not make the light combat aircraft combat ready due to inadequacies caused by non-supply of quartz radome and a bolt on inflight refueling probe by Cobham.
“There is no other reason than non-supply of newly designed quartz radome and in-flight refueling probe by Cobham UK, the next FOC is scheduled for March 2016,” DRDO Chief Dr S Christopher told Indian media Monday.
“There are no technological issues deferring FOC but merely process related ones subject to the vagaries of the foreign supplier for the two afore said parts,” Dr Tamilmani, Director General (Aero),DRDO had said during the first time delay by Cobham.
“If Cobham had kept its delivery timelines, the idea was to wrap up ground check outs for the IFR probe in October-November and then commence flight trials. Some 20-25 day/night flights at different altitudes and speeds would be needed to clear the IFR system and had the probe been delivered in September 2014, it would have easily been cleared before mid-2015”, he had said.