The first Light Combat Aircraft (LCA) Tejas Mk-1 was formally inducted into service on Wednesday in a function held at Indian Air Force Station, Sulur near Coimbatore. Chief of the Air Staff, Air Chief Marshal (ACM) R.K.S. Bhadauria, received the first FOC standard LCA from Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL) in a function held at Air Force Station, Sulur near Coimbatore, in Tamil Nadu. The Indian Air Force (IAF) formally inducted into service the first LCA Tejas Mk-1 in Final Operational Clearance (FOC) standard on Wednesday, and operationalised its second LCA squadron No. 18 ‘Flying Bullets’.
Apart from all the capabilities of IOC aircraft, the FOC variant additionally comes with air to air refuelling capability, close combat gun, additional drop tanks, Beyond Visual Range (BVR) missile capability, updated avionics and flight control software suite. HAL was expecting cabinet clearance for the deal of 83 LCA Mk-1A fighters by the third quarter of this year. The clearance was expected by August which got delayed due to COVID-19 situation, adding that HAL was looking at exports of LCA and some countries had expressed interests. HAL is setting up a second assembly line in collaboration with the private industry to increase the production rate of the LCA from current eight to 16 meet the delivery timelines.
The formation of the first Tejas-equipped squadron started in July 2011. The Tejas entered service with No. 45 Squadron IAF (Flying Daggers) based at the Aircraft and Systems Testing Establishment at HAL, Bangalore on 1 July 2016 before being moved to Sulur Air Force Station in Coimbatore. The squadron will initially have four aircraft. The IAF’s Aircraft & Systems Testing Establishment will receive four aircraft already built including two development aircraft. The 45 Squadron of LCA Tejas has successfully flown over 1,500 sorties during trials. During Exercise Gagan Shakti 2018, the eight Tejas deployed each flew six sorties per day.
The HAL Tejas is an Indian single-engine, delta wing, fourth-generation fighter jet, multirole light fighter designed by the Aeronautical Development Agency (ADA) and Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL) for the Indian Air Force and Indian Navy. It came from the Light Combat Aircraft (LCA) programme, which began in the 1980s to replace India’s ageing MiG-21 fighters. In 2003, the LCA was officially named “Tejas”. Tejas has a tail-less compound delta-wing configuration with a single dorsal fin. This provides better high-alpha performance characteristics than conventional wing designs.