Background to DRDO Developed Light Combat Aircraft (LCA) Tejas

Friday, July 1, 2016

Bangalore: Tejas is a 4th generation fighter aircraft indigenously developed in the country after technology gap of around two decades of HF Marut by DRDO. Its development by LCA (Tejas) team at ADA, an autonomous society of DRDO is unique in the light of the fact that there was no infrastructure base and negligible technological base available in the country for undertaking development of a modern combat aircraft.

Full Scale Engineering Development (FSED) programme was actually sanctioned in April 1993. The historic maiden flight of the first Technology Demonstrator (TD1) took place on January 04, 2001. The scope of FSED Phase 1 was to demonstrate the technologies so that a decision could be taken to build operational proto vehicles, at a later stage. LCA FSED Phase 1 was completed on March 31, 2004 with all objectives of technology development achieved. With efficient management of funds, four aircraft (TD1, TD2, PV1, & PV2) have been built within the funds sanctioned for two aircraft development. While Phase 1 programme was in progress, the Government in November 2001 decided to concurrently go ahead with the build of operational proto vehicles in LCA FSED Phase 2 programme.

The scope of FSED Phase 2 programme was to build three prototypes of operational aircraft including trainers and also to build the infrastructure required for producing eight aircraft per year and build eight Limited Series Production (LSP) aircraft. The Phase 2 programme has been split into two phases namely, Initial Operational Clearance (IOC) and Final Operational Clearance (FOC). Standard of Preparation of operational aircraft was finalized in 2004 with changes in weapons, sensors and avionics to meet IAF requirements and overcome obsolescence.

LCA has accomplished about 3200 flights, testifies the point that it is a reliable aircraft and that the LCA Programme is now racing smoothly toward achieving FOC after attaining IOC in December 2013.

Action for induction of Tejas into IAF has been initiated. As of now, IAF has placed order in 2006 for 20 Tejas aircraft in IOC configuration and another 20 aircraft in FOC configuration in 2010. Aircraft build is in progress. Maiden flight of first Series Production (SP1) Tejas aircraft of IOC configuration took place on September 30, 2014 and handed over to the Indian Air Force by the Defence Minister Shri Manohar Parrikar on January 17, 2015. Maiden flight of Second Series Production (SP2) Tejas aircraft of IOC configuration took place on March 22, 2016. Further SP aircraft will be delivered progressively by HAL to IAF for induction.

Secretary, Department of Defence R&D and DG ADA Dr. S Christopher, said that “LCA Programme has been unique in bringing together stakeholders and partners within and outside the country. HAL has been the Principal Partner, with participation and support of IAF, IN, DRDO, CSIR, CEMILAC, DGAQA, PSUs, academic institutions, private establishments, etc.”

He said “Team ‘Tejas’ is proud that an idea in late 1980’s is today turning into a reality of having our own fighter aircraft”. Dr. S Christopher also further stated that this critical milestone could be achieved only due to the initiative of the Defence Minister Shri Manohar Parrikar.