IAF begins establishing first LCA squadron
Tejas’ seventh limited series production to fly in August
The Indian Air Force (IAF) has begun the process of establishing the first light combat aircraft (LCA) squadron — Tejas — and is getting help from Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL) and Aeronautical Development Agency (ADA).
Well-placed sources in the IAF said: “We already have our personnel in Bangalore and are working together with ADA and HAL to form the squadron, an official announcement about the squadron will be made soon after we are fully ready.”
A senior retired IAF Official said that a squadron would, generally comprise of 18 pilots and will have a service aircraft, a standby platform and a trainer. However, he added that the number could vary depending on the aircraft and other variables.
The first squadron of LCA will be the IAF’s 45th squadron, the Flying Daggers. They would first be based in Bangalore before being stationed at Sulur, near Coimbatore, where the IAF wants the first squadron positioned.
Speaking to Deccan Herald, ADA head P S Subramanyam, who confirmed that the IAF personnel were in Bangalore, said: “HAL, ADA and IAF together are working on raising the first squadron.”
He said that a team of ground support personnel and technicians, who have been identified after due diligence would assist the IAF in establishing the squadron so that there is proper product support, besides having set up labs and other facilities.
The aid from HAL and ADA, he said, will be during the transition phase, and after that the role of the duo will be restricted to support and maintenance. The IAF personnel are currently going through ground testing among other things and will get on to the real activity once the LCA limited series production seven (LSP-7) and LSP-8 platforms are ready to fly.
Speaking on that, Subramanyam said: “Despite small delays, the LSP-7 platform will take to the skies this August and the LSP-8 in November.” Aircraft Systems Testing Establishment (ASTE) Chief Test Pilot, Group Captain B R Krishan had told Deccan Herald in February that the aircraft would be put through rigorous testing and the limits would be pushed before handing it over to the squadron. “...The ASTE intends to push the G-force of the plane from six to eight,” he had said.
The first LCA squadron, will first fly the LSP-7 & 8, which are pegged to be very close to the final version of the aircraft. It is noteworthy that HAL and ADA had earlier said that the IAF would be provided with the LSP-7 and LSP-8 for user evaluation trials by March 2011, but have failed in meeting the deadline.
However, the delay, they say is acceptable given that the LSP-7 and LSP-8 will be very close to the final version. Not only will they be close in terms of design and ability but also in terms of the way they are manufactured, which has required HAL and ADA to make suitable changes.
LCH completes maiden flight
The second technology demonstrator (TD-2) of the light combat helicopter (LCH) completed its maiden flight on June 28, here, an official announcement of which is yet to be made by Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL)
According to sources close to the project, pilots performed limited manoeuvres on June 28 and did not experiment much, as the flight was limited to low-speed testing.
They added that the pilots, Hari Nair and Unni Pillai, after the flight, have given their observations and the team is working on the same. Surprisingly, HAL has maintained silence over the test, the same way it did last year when TD-1 went on its first flight, which was a milestone.
The LCH TD-2, although faced a small glitch, attracted a lot of attention at the latest edition of Aero India, given its digital camouflage paint, a technology which is being used for the first time in India.