Monday, January 10, 2011

Homegrown LCA Tejas gets to join Air Force

It’s a big and costly step forward for India's defence aviation technology. Over three decades in the making - finally the Indian Air force (IAF) has got the operational clearance for Tejas.

India's first indigenously built light combat aircraft will now be inducted into the air force this year.

In Bangalore on Monday, the skies were clear and the men were ready. It was a day they have waited for years.

Almost a decade after the multi role Light Combat Aircraft Tejas first took to the skies in Bangalore, India's homegrown LCA was given the initial operation clearance, clearing the way for its induction into the Indian Air Force.

Today's flight launches India into an exclusive club of nations that include the US, Russia, France and Britain that can produce combat aircrafts. The IAF have ordered 40 machines that will be delivered in the next two years and will replace the ageing MiGs.

“Tejas taking wings is actually a dream come true for all of us. We’ve been dreaming about this for the last 25-30 years,” exclaimed Air Chief Marshal PV Naik.

The lightweight Tejas, presently powered by American General Electric Engine has been developed from scratch.

The 4th generation aircraft is capable of carrying assorted weapon load and can drop tanks up to four tons. It has some of the latest avionics and digital flight control systems.

The LCA though many say is still not 100 per cent ready and the IAF which has long waited for this believes many more tests need to be done before it can be a truly cutting edge machine.

The project, which has taken 27 long years to reach this stage, has been bogged down by technology denials, leading to financial constraints and cost escalations. But with this operational clearance there are now plans to start the Medium Combat Aircraft

However, Defence Minister AK Antony now says that money will not be a problem.

Only a handful of countries can be proud to make their aircraft. The team behind Tejas now hopes that this plane will be a stepping-stone to greater success.

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