Tejas, India's first indigenous light combat aircraft (LCA), has received initial operational clearance-II for induction into the Indian Air Force.
The LCA is designed to ultimately replace the Mig 21 fleet of IAF.
At an event in Bengaluru, Defence Minister AK Antony handed over the 'Release to Service Certificate' of LCA Tejas to the chief of Air Staff Air Chief Marshal NAK Browne.
Antony said that the capabilities of the aircraft have been improved significantly in the last three years.
"In recognition of the enhanced capabilities, IAF has decided to grant the aircraft a higher status, namely, the initial operational clearance for induction into the service," Antony said.
With the approval of several new programmes such as Mk2 variants for the navy and air force, advanced medium combat aircraft, unmanned air systems, fifth-generation fighter aircraft and medium transport aircraft, military aviation in the country has received a major boost, noted Antony.
Tejas is the smallest, lightweight, single engine, single seat, supersonic, multirole and combat aircraft, which includes quadruplex digital fly-by-wire flight control system and advanced glass cockpit open architecture system.
LCA Tejas, which is powered by the F404/IN20 engine, is capable of flying non-stop to destinations more than 1700km away and its radius of action is approximately 500km, depending upon the nature and duration of actual combat.
In January 2011, Tejas achieved initial operational clearance-1 (IOC-I), while it had a few limitations in terms of combat performance, turnaround time and weaponisation in IOC-I.
For land and carrier borne operations, four variants of Tejas aircraft are being developed, which include combat variant, trainer and naval variants.