Defence experts say Tejas has come a bit too late into the changed air warfare scenario.
Bengaluru: It took over 35 years for India’s indigenous Light Combat Aircraft Tejas to take off from the conception stage on drawing boards to approval in air.
Indian Air Force chief Air Chief Marshal BS Dhanoa said here that Tejas was ‘combat ready’ and has officially secured the final operational clearance. It was 35 years ago that Tejas was conceived and 25 years after the project was approved that the LCA received formal nod.
Air Chief Marshal BS Dhanoa said Tejas was combat ready. “Didn’t you see them perform at Vayu Shakti? You saw how much the aircraft could fly and the number of sorties it could generate during Gagan Shakti. During Vayu Shakti (this year), we showed you how accurately this aircraft could dispense weapons on the target. That’s the proof,” he said.
However, defence experts do not agree. The LCA will be no match to the F-16s that Pakistan has of the stealth fighters of China. At best the LAC could be used for short sorties and cannot carry heavy weaponary, say experts. Air warfare scenario has changed and it is to be seen where the LCA will fit in, they added.
The IAF has received the release-to-service certificate, in other words, the LCA got the final operational clearance (FOC) from the Defence Research and Development Organisation. It was DRDO’s lab Aeronautical Development Agency that designed the aircraft. Conceived in 1983 and sanctioned in 1993, LCA is being produced by defence PSU Hindustan Aeronautics Ltd.
HAL can now go ahead with the production of the aircraft in FOC configuration. Dhanoa said it was a “milestone today we have got the FOC of the LCA MK 1. A fighter plane must behave like a fighter — and it did well in both air-to-air and air-to-ground modes.”
The IAF has placed orders for 40 Tejas aircraft so far, of which HAL has rolled out 14 and IAF has accepted 10.