Bengaluru: Thirty-two years after the project was sanctioned, the first of the indigenously-built Tejas Light Combat Aircraft (LCA) was finally handed over to the Indian Air Force (IAF) today.
Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL) handed over the Tejas Series Production-1 (LCA-SP1) to Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar and Air Chief Marshal Anup Raha here in a quiet ceremony that kept the media persons out.
The aircraft will now be finally used by the Indian Air Force (IAF).
This will be the start of a process of induction of the fighters being built at home under a project which has already estimated to have cost the exchequer over Rs 17,000 crore.
The IOC-I was granted to the aircraft, being built by state-owned HAL, in January 2011.
The Final Operational Clearance (FOC) is expected by the year-end.
The first IOC was granted after the aircraft successfully completed its maiden flight on September 30 last year. The sources said 20 aircraft will be built by 2017-2018, to make the first squadron of the aircraft.
The LCA programme was initiated in 1983 to replace the ageing MiG-21s in IAF’s combat fleet but has missed several deadlines due to several reasons.
Hindustan Aeronautics Limited’s LCA Project Group has been upgraded to a full-fledged division to look after production in a systematic way with more investments.
HAL has carried out around thousands of sorties of LCA and conducted outstation flight trials at Leh, Jamnagar, Jaisalmer, Uttaralai Gwalior, Pathankot and Goa for cold weather, armament and weapon deliveries, MultiMode Radar (MMR), Radar Warning Receiver (RWR), hot weather and missile firing flight trials, its officials have said.
Tejas has also successfully demonstrated weapon delivery capability during weapon trials at Jamnagar and Jaisalmer, HAL officials said.