First series production Tejas aircraft completes maiden flight
Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL) has successfully conducted the maiden test flight of the first series production standard Tejas light combat aircraft (LCA) from its facility in Bangalore, India.
Piloted by HAL Test Flying Chief Air Commandore (Retd) KA Muthana, the aircraft took off without any telemetry support and landed safely in less than 30 minutes, as reported by Flightglobal.
The flight test takes the indigenously built aircraft closer to final clearance and induction into the Indian Air Force (IAF).
HAL chairman Dr RK Tyagi said: "The aircraft is now ready for IAF operations.
"This could be achieved within nine months after receiving the IOC certification in December 2013 and within one year after receiving the build standard documents."
According to Tyagi, other series LCA aircraft are under various stages of development at the fully equipped production line at HAL factory at Bangalore.
In 2006, state-owned HAL received a contract to supply 20 LCA Tejas aircraft in the initial operational clearance (IOC) configuration to IAF.
The build standard documents for IOC aircraft were finalised in September 2013, while IOC itself was accorded in December of the same year.
Jointly manufactured by a consortium of five organisations pooled by HAL and the Aeronautical Development Agency, Tejas is a single-seat, lightweight, high-agility supersonic fighter aircraft designed to replace the IAF's ageing MiG 21 and MiG 23 aircraft fleet.
Powered by a single GE F404-GE-IN20 turbofan engine, the aircraft features eight external hardpoints to carry stores, with three under each wing and a tailless compound delta platform.
The aircraft can be armed with air-to-air, air-to-ground and anti-ship missiles, precision-guided munitions, rockets and bombs.
HAL is currently awaiting the final operational clearance (FOC) to undertake the maiden flight of the aircraft, whose demand is likely to go up in the near future.
Image: India's first series production standard Tejas light combat aircraft during flight. Photo: © Hindustan Aeronautics Limited.