The first squadron of India’s LCA Tejas fighter aircraft is expected to be formed on July 1 this year as the series production of aircraft has commenced this year.
The IAF has also decided to place an order for an additional 80 Tejas in the advanced LCA MK1A configuration, an MoD release said.
The Chief of Air Staff Air Chief Marshal Arup Raha flew the indigenously designed and produced Light Combat Aircraft (Tejas) at HAL Bangalore yesterday, a move seen as an attempt to instil confidence within the IAF about the aircraft which has been in the making for over two decades.
The Air Chief Marshal carried out manoeuvers in the entire flying envelope of the aircraft. He carried out simulated air to air and air to ground attacks. He also assessed the advanced modes of the radar and Helmet Mounted Display Sight (HMDs).
It is not yet clear if the squadron strength fighters would be ready in 45 days. HAL chairman Suvarna Raju said in an interview to Bharat Shakti portal that his company is presently executing the order for 20 aircraft.
Beyond this, Indian Air force has indicated a requirement of 100 aircraft in the LCA Mk 1A configuration. More orders are definitely expected, considering the performance characteristics of the aircraft.
Further, Naval version of LCA is also under development which also has potential requirements, the HAL chairman said. The Naval LCA is going through its paces on a shore-based ski-jump in Goa and is expected to be placed on the locally-made aircraft carrier.
The Mark 1A is expected to have a mid-air refuelling probe to enhance its endurance and operational range. It will be integrated with long-range Derby and Python air-to-air missiles for aerial combat, and its internal systems will be re-arranged for better accessibility, making the fighter easier to maintain.
However, the first squadron of LCAs (20 aircraft) will not have the air-to-air refuelling facility or the gun meant for use in a dog-fight scenario. The supersonic fighter, powered by an American GE engine, though, will be armed with other weapons tried and tested in various firing ranges in the country.
The Aeronautical Development Agency (ADA), the DRDO lab handling the development of the Light Combat Aircraft (LCA) Tejas, today said it was preparing two prototypes of the indigenously designed fighter jet for the next phase of the programme. While one prototype is being readied for equipping the jet with the air-to-air refuelling capability, the other is being prepared for installation of a gun in the LCA.
“The gun trial is expected to begin in the third quarter of this year. The air-to-air refuelling tests are slated to begin from December,” ADA chief Commodore CD Balaji was quoted as saying by Tribune Wednesday.
The first 20 production Tejas Mk 1A will be equipped with hybrid version of the EL/M-2032 radar. It features look-up/look-down/shoot-down modes, low/medium/high pulse repetition frequencies (PRF), platform motion compensation, doppler beam-sharpening, moving target indication (MTI), Doppler filtering, constant false alarm rate (CFAR) detection, range-Doppler ambiguity resolution, scan conversion, and online diagnostics to identify faulty processor modules. The Tejas Mark IA will be equipped with an improved version of the EL/M-2052 AESA radar being developed jointly by Elta and HAL.