HAL gets green signal to make weaponised LCA

HAL gets green signal to make weaponised LCA

The Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL) has been given the nod to manufacture the weaponised version of Light Combat Aircraft (LCA) Tejas for the Indian Air Force and the first such aircraft is expected to be out by the year-end, according to a company spokesperson. PTI file photo

State-owned aviation major, Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL) has been given the green signal to manufacture a weaponised, lethal version of the Light Combat Aircraft (Tejas) under Final Operational Clearance (FOC) configuration. The first of this version will be out by December, this year. 

Indigenously designed and developed by HAL and Aeronautical Development Agency (ADA), Tejas is a single-seat, single-jet engine, multirole light fighter aircraft. The LCA is being made for the requirements of the Indian Air Force (IAF) and Indian Navy. 

A HAL spokesperson said the Centre for Military Airworthiness and Certification (CEMILAC) has given the go-ahead to start manufacturing Tejas Mk1 under a 'limited' Final Operational Clearance (FOC) configuration. 

However, the full FOC will be certified only after extensive tests and trials. This is likely to take at least another year. The requirements for the final operational clearance include battle-time capabilities of mid-air refuelling, AESA radar, electronic warfare suites, a variety of bombs and weapons. 

According to the spokesperson, CEMILAC had accepted the design documents submitted by ADA. 

CEMILAC is a DRDO laboratory authorised to certify military aircraft and airborne systems. The IAF has ordered 40 Tejas aircraft, of which 20 will be FOC-configured. 

Eleven of the Initial Operational Clearance (IOC)-configured aircraft have already been delivered to the IAF. The Air Force currently flies these aircraft to get acquainted with the LCA's competencies. 

HAL will now have to move to the next stage including planning and procurement of aircraft parts from different vendors. Once the first LCA under the limited FOC is delivered by the year-end, the company topbrass wants to speed up production for delivery of the rest by the middle of 2020.

The LCA project has already overshot two deadlines for the FOC-configuration aircraft, one in end of June, 2018 and another by December, last year.