Three decades after the project went into development, the indigenous Light Combat Aircraft (LCA) Tejas was inducted into the Indian Air Force today. IAF raised the first squadron of the home-grown LCA Tejas with the induction of two aircrafts. The squadron has been named ‘Flying Daggers 45’ and will be based in Bengaluru for the first two years – later moving to Sulur in Tamil Nadu. The Aircraft System Testing Establishment in Bengaluru hosted the induction ceremony in the presence of Air Marshal Jasbir Walia.
The fighter aircraft has been jointly developed by Aeronautical Development Agency (ADA) and Hindustan Aeronautics Limited. According to HAL, the air force kept shifting its goal about what exactly it wanted from the aircraft after it first went into development. Additionally, the manufacturing was hit by sanctions imposed by the US after the Pokhran nuclear test in 1998, which made it difficult for them to obtain crucial technology. While it was argued that Tejas will be obsolete by the time IAF starts using it, the remarkable features of the aircraft say otherwise.
20 aircrafts will be commissioned under the “Initial Operational Clearance” plan in the first stage of induction and 20 more will be inducted later with additional features including Beyond Visual Range Missile (BVR). Over 80 Tejas 1A aircrafts with improved specifications will be inducted in the second stage. The upgraded version will have Active Electrically Scanned Array Radar, Unified Electronic Warfare Suite, and mid-air refuelling capacity.
Here are things to know about LCA Tejas:
1. The government of India set up the Aeronautical Development Agency after taking the decision to build an indigenous aircraft in 1984.
The development programme was started mainly to replace the expensive and ageing MIG-21 LCA fighters.
2. The LCA made its first flight on January 4, 2001, and it was named Tejas by the then Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee.
Tejas means ‘radiance’ in Sanskrit.
3. The home-grown LCA has been designed keeping in mind every aspect including manoeuvrability, ability to carry weapons, weight of the aircraft, etc.
The aircraft has aerodynamically unstable tailless compound delta-wing configuration, which has been designed mainly for easy manoeuvrability and agility. This means that pilots can manoeuvre Tejas in any direction regardless of pure aerodynamic principles.
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4. Composed of 42% carbon fibre composites, 43% aluminium alloy and the remainder titanium alloy, the aircraft is equipped to handle air-to-air missiles, air-to-surface missiles, anti-ship missiles, bombs and rockets.
The fly-by-wire system helps the aircraft stabilise when needed as the manual flight control has been replaced by an electronic interface. Signals sent by the aircraft computers are translated into actions by the aircraft without any input from a pilot.
5. Tejas participated in its first foreign show at the Bahrain International Air Show 2016.
6. It can travel at a maximum speed of 2,205 km/hr for Final Operational Clearance version and 2,000 km/hr for Initial Operational Clearance version.
7. According to IAF, Tejas is the smallest lightweight, multi-role, single-engine tactical fighter aircraft in the world and is being developed in single-seat fighter and twin seat trainer variants for the Indian Air Force and Indian Navy.