India’s home-made Light Combat Aircraft (LCA), Tejas has been grounded due to a defective landing gear detected in all prototypes and limited series production (LSP) aircraft.
The landing gear problem, as reported by Deccan Chronicle newspaper was that the gear would not fold up after take-off. IAF pilots encountered problems with the landing gear in Bengaluru and the second time in Jaisalmer city after a round of weapon trials at the Pokhran range in Rajasthan state. The fighter was flown from Jaisalmer to Bengaluru with its landing gear deployed after the second incident. The date of the incident is not known.
India’s Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL) is manufacturing the aircraft with test pilots from the IAF in charge of the test flights. HAL executives said, as claimed by Deccan Chronicle, that “the snag had resulted in discontinuation of flights of these military jets but disclosed that the glitch would be fixed soon as the cause for malfunctioning of the landing gear has been identified.”
India’s defence minister Manohar Parrikar has earlier stated that the government would buy 36 French Rafale fighters due to budgetary constraints instead of 126 as originally planned. It would acquire the LCA (Tejas) aircraft which has been development for nearly three decades.
IAF chief Air Chief Marshal Arup Raha stated on October 6 that the IAF needed to add at least six squadrons (108 jets) and indicated his preference for an advanced version of ‘Tejas’ after the Rafales had been inducted.
The first ‘Tejas’ combat jet was handed over to the IAF in Bengaluru on January 17, 2015, by defence minister Manohar Parrikar with the first squadron set to be based at an air force station in Sulur, Tamil Nadu
The LCA Tejas has had a string of problems including its canopy opening by itself during the Aero India air show in Bangalore a few years ago. Even the Indian government’s accounting watchdog, the Comptroller and Auditor General (CSG) had earlier pointed out several cost and time overruns and the project’s inability to develop technologies as required by the IAF.
Notwithstanding the problems, the IAF is learnt to be placing an order for 100 upgraded Tejas aircraft in addition to an older order for 20 planes, India’s Economic Times reported .
The upgraded Tejas aircraft is expected to have an Active Electronically Scanned Array ( AESA) radar, beyond visual range missile, air-to-air refueling and electronic warfare capability.