Tejas Light Combat Aircraft

India will induct the indigenous Tejas Light Combat Aircraft (LCA) into Indian Air Force (IAF) later this year, Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) chief V K Saraswat has said.

"With ‘Tejas’ completing almost 1,855 flying hours (flight tests) and all problems it encountered during the initial operational clearance having been solved, it is ready to enter into the final operational clearance phase," Saraswat added.

The LCA has been developed by a consortium of five organisations pooled by the Aeronautical Development Agency (ADA) under the DRDO, while state-run Hindustan Aeronautics (HAL) is the principal partner in the design of the aircraft.

The single-seat, single-engine, lightweight, high-agility supersonic fighter aircraft is set to replace the existing aging MiG 21 and MiG 23 aircraft for the Air Force.

The IAF has ordered 40 Tejas aircraft, of which 20 were ordered under initial operational clearance (IOC) standards, while the rest were requisitioned as per final operational clearance (FOC) standards.

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Powered by GE F404-GE-IN20 turbofan engine, the Tejas LCA features eight external hardpoints to carry stores, with three under each wing and a tailless compound delta planform.

The aircraft avionics suite includes quadruplex digital automatic flight control and can be armed with air-to-air, air-to-ground and anti-ship missiles, precision-guided munitions, rockets and bombs.

Weighing around 5450kg, the LAC has a maximum speed of 2,205km/h, maximum altitude of 15,200m, take-off weight of 13,500kg and a range of 3,000km.

The first naval version of Tejas LCA, designated as NP1, recently performed its maiden flight in Bangalore, India from an aircraft carrier.

Image: The Indian Air Force Tejas Light Combat Aircraft (LCA) at Aero India 2007. Photo: Sergey Krivchikov.