Induction of LCA Tejas postponed to November
The much-awaited induction of the indigenous Tejas light combat aircraft in the Indian Air Force got further delayed with the Defence Ministry giving the LCA team a new deadline of November, 2013, to obtain the initial operational clearance-2, which will be the last but one hurdle before the LCA gets inducted into the air force.
The earlier deadline for the IOC-2 was September, which has been extended by two months now. The schedule for the final operational clearance will be December, 2014, though the top brass in the IAF is sceptical about the FOC deadline.
At a review meeting on Monday, Defence Minister A K Antony asked the Defence Research and Development Organisation, Aeronautical Development Agency and Hindustan Aeronautics Limited to avoid any further slippage on the LCA programme that began in 1983 with the target of developing the indigenous fighter in five years.
But 30 years down the line and after spending more than Rs 13,000 crore, the Tejas light combat aircraft is still not a part of the Indian Air Force inventory, though recently it flew in an IAF exercise at Pokhran.
The Indian Air Force placed an order of two squadrons of LCA with the Aeronautical Development Agency. But the induction can happen only after LCA receives it’s IOC-2 certificate from the regulatory body, Centre for Military Airworthiness and Certification, Bangalore.
At the review meeting, HAL was asked to ramp up its production capacity to 16 aircraft a year.
Even though the LCA got its IOC-I in January, 2011, the aircraft had to go through an additional IOC as the IAF was unhappy with the IOC-I. The government had earlier sanctioned LCA’s full scale engineering development by December 31, 2018.