The Defence Minister
Shri AK Antony today handed over the Release to Service Certificate of
the country’s own Light Combat Aircraft (LCA), Tejas, to the Chief of
Air Staff Air Chief Marshal NAK Browne, at a function in Bengaluru,
marking the fruition of a long and difficult journey of three decades of
efforts to make a fighter aircraft of international standards.
Described as Initial Operational Clearance-II of Tejas, the LCA is
designed to ultimately replace the Mig 21 fleet of IAF. The timing of
IOC- II for LCA coincides with the iconic Mig 21 FL fighter flying into
IAF’s history just a week ago.
Visibly happy at today’s event, Shri Antony said, during the last three
years, the capabilities of the aircraft have been improved
significantly. “In recognition of the enhanced capabilities, IAF has
decided to grant the aircraft a higher status, namely, the Initial
Operational Clearance for induction into the Service”, he said.
Shri Antony candidly confessed that he had his share of anxieties
regarding the future of LCA when he had taken over as the Defence
Minister in 2006 but today we are putting behind the moments of self
–doubt, frustrations and setbacks which we as a nation have gone through
in the last 30 years.
“The improvements to the aircraft have enhanced the flight envelope of
the aircraft and also weapon delivery capability of the aircraft. The
performance at Iron Fist, Jaisalmer and the recent missile firing at Goa
are examples of such improvements. The reliability of the aircraft and
serviceability has also been enhanced. The number of flights nearing 500
within this year provides an indication of this. Operating at IAF bases
namely, Jamnagar, Jaisalmer, Uttarlai, Gwaliar, Goa, Leh, Pathankot
demonstrate the aircraft capability to operate from Air Force bases.
There have also been occasions when the same aircraft has flown thrice
on the same day, indicating the operational reliability of this
home-bred fighter aircraft ”, he said.
Shri Antony said military aviation in the country has got a major boost
with the approval of several new programmes. Some of these programmes
include – Mk2 variants of Navy and Air Force; Advanced Medium Combat
Aircraft; Unmanned Air Systems; Fifth Generation Fighter Aircraft and
Medium Transport Aircraft, to name a few.
Describing the attainment of Initial Operational Clearance as an
important milestone in the long journey towards indigenization through
self-reliance, Shri Antony said, our public and private sector must work
in tandem to develop and produce world-class military systems of the
The Chief of Air Staff Air Chief Marshal NAK Browne said it is indeed a
proud day for the nation and particularly for the IAF; since the grant
of IOC acknowledges the capabilities of this aircraft and paves the way
for the induction of LCA Mk 1 into operational service. He said the
progress of such a challenging experimental project without any accident
or major incident is unprecedented in the history of aviation.
On a personal note, ACM Browne said as he prepares to hang his uniform
at the end of this month, he would have gone home as a disappointed
person if the IOC of the LCA had not been achieved.
Today’s event was attended among others by the Scientific Advisor to RM
Shri Avinash Chander, Secretary Defence Production Shri GC Pati,
Chairman of HAL Shri RK Tyagi, Programme Director of ADA Shri PS
Subramanyam, DG- Aero and CE CEMILAC Dr K Tamil Mani.
A Long Journey
The Country had embarked on an ambitious plan to indigenously design and
develop the Light Combat aircraft (LCA) to be inducted into IAF and
Indian Navy inventory. The Programme has been spearheaded by the
Aeronautical Development Agency (ADA), Bangalore under the Department of
Defence R & D, with Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL) as its principal
partner. A large number of Laboratories of Defence Research &
Development Organisation (DRDO) and Central Scientific & Industrial
Research (CSIR), certification agencies, Indian Air Force, academic
institutions and Private/Public Sector Undertakings participated in the
LCA development effort.
Indian Light Combat Aircraft, christened ‘Tejas’, is the smallest, light
weight, single engine, single seat, supersonic, multirole, combat
aircraft and is one of the best in its class in the world. The
quadruplex digital fly-by-wire flight control system ensures acceptable
handling qualities while ensuring adequate safety throughout the flight
envelope. The advanced Glass cockpit open architecture system
complements piloting. Four variants of Tejas aircraft (Combat variant,
Trainer and Naval variants) are being developed for land and carrier
The Initial Operational Clearance-1 (IOC-I) for ‘Tejas’ was achieved on
10 Jan 2011. In IOC-I, the Aircraft had a few limitations in terms of
Combat performance, turn around time and its weaponisation which had to
be refined and improved through Research & Development process. In
addition to this, Wake penetration trials, all weather clearances were
planned beyond IOC-1.
Since IOC-1, ‘Tejas’ has accomplished significant milestones. Till date,
more than 2450 sorties have been completed to achieve the flight test
goals towards IOC-2. The design issues were resolved with System
Engineering approach and by periodical reviews with participation of
The salient features which have been achieved in IOC-2 include Safe
flying up to High angle of Attack as mandated by the users. This has
considerably enhanced the combat performance of the aircraft. The Flight
control system evaluation has also been completed. The time for initial
built-in test has been reduced considerably which enables faster turn
around and enhanced operational readiness of aircraft. The Brake system
has been improved significantly in terms of energy absorption capability
during landing, thus ensuring prompt turn-around of the aircraft.
Significant improvement in Cockpit ergonomic and lighting system has
been accomplished for improved night flying. In-flight re-light
capability was demonstrated to ensure enhanced safety and reliability of
the aircraft. This is a major achievement. Avionics and Weapon system of
the aircraft have been revamped for effective mission superiority.
Helmet Mounted Display Sight (HMDS) has been fully integrated in Tejas
and R73E missile firing has been successfully demonstrated using HMDS.
Multi Mode Weapon multirole capability of Tejas was demonstrated during
its participation in Iron Fist. Air to Ground mission and Air to Air
missions were demonstrated by dropping Laser Guided Bombs and R73E
firing in single pass. Laser Guided Bomb firing has been achieved for
IOC-2 to user’s satisfaction.
Aircraft readiness for missions in terms of its readiness and
Operational Readiness Platform (ORP) and Turn Round Service (TRS) and
easier maintainability has been achieved as per requirement thus
enhancing operational readiness of the aircraft. Tejas has passed all
the tests for “All Weather Clearance” of the aircraft. The Aircraft has
been cleared for fly without any telemetry support.
IOC-2 shall enable Air Force to carry out air superiority and offensive
air support missions, forward air field operations, all weather multi
role operations, Electronic counter measures and night flying
LCA Tejas is capable of flying non- stop to destinations over 1700 km
away (Ferry Range). It`s Radius of Action is upto 500 km depending upon
the nature and duration of actual combat.
LCA is powered by the F404/IN20- a well proven turbofan engine, designed
and manufactured by General Electric Aircraft Engines, USA. The Engine
is modular in construction, consisting of six modules, ensuring easy
maintenance. The F404-GE-IN20 is a low bypass turbofan engine, with
augmented thrust provided by the afterburner.
The production facilities have been set up at HAL and the aircraft
delivery is expected to commence from 2014. “We have plans to initially
produce eight aircraft per year. Further plans are afoot to enhance the
production rate to 16 aircraft per year in consultation with IAF and
MoD. HAL is fully geared up to meet the challenging production schedule
and hopes to fulfil the requirements of customers in a time bound
manner”, says the Chairman, HAL, Dr RK Tyagi.
After the achievement of IOC II, HAL will go ahead with the Series
Production of LCA Tejas. The Company has already established the
structural assembly hangar and the assembly jigs have been calibrated
with state of the Laser Trackers to an accuracy of 80 microns (0.08 mm)
to meet stringent quality standards. A state of the art CNC drilling
machine has been installed to ensure repeatability and reduce the cycle