Tejas aircraft given final operational clearance

G Satheesh Reddy

Bengaluru: Secretary Defence R&D and Chairman, Defence Research and Development Organisation, G Satheesh Reddy gave the Final Operational Clearance (FOC) to India’s Light Combat Aircraft Tejas MK I yesterday on the sidelines of 2019 Aero India air show.

Speaking to reporters, Reddy said the Initial Operational Clearance (IOC) took place in 2013, and IOC standard aircraft were inducted into the IAF No 45 Squadron in July 2016, which has successfully flown over 1500 sorties since then. It was the best moment for any aeronautical engineers and a landmark day for the country’s scientists, industry and the air force. He also recalled the contribution of his predecessors and officers involved in the project.

Air Chief Marshal B S Dhanoa congratulated the Tejas project team and said, “You saw how much the the aircraft could fly, the number of sorties it could generate in exercise Gagan Shakti in April 2018 and in February this year. In exerciseVayu Shakti we showed you as to how accurately this aircraftcould dispense weapons on the target. It can not only sustain a very high sortie rate, butcan also carry on very accurate weapon delivery.”

“Not only that we will have to take LCA Mk 2… which in the days ahead will replace the Jaguar, Mirage and MiG 29… after that we will go to Advanced Medium Combat Aircraft. Agencies involved in the design, development and production of Tejas are Aeronautical Development Agency (ADA), the autonomous society of DRDO as the design agency and Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL) as the manufacturer. Many other DRDO laboratories like ADE, GTRE, LRDE, CEMILAC, as well as other agencies like BEL, CSIR, DG-AQA, and private sector agencies have contributed in the journey of the LCA. Calling it a “big day”, HAL Chairman and Managing Director R Madhavan said “We can go ahead with manufacturing of the second set of aircraft with the FOC. The first set of 16 was in the IOCconfiguration…We are getting ready with jigs and fixtures in place,” he further added.

According to a release, the FOC involves addition of key capabilities to the Initial Operational Clearance (IOC) aircraft, which in main are Beyond Visual Range Missile capabilities, Air-to-Air Refuelling, Air-to-Ground FOC earmarked weapons and general flight envelope expansion. The RSD provides the capabilities, features and technologies that FOC standard Aircraft will have on induction into the IAF.

The handing over of the FOC Certificate and Release to Service Document (RSD) to the Chief of Air Staff was done on the sidelines of the Aero India air show here in the presence of the Defence Secretary, HAL chairman and chief of CEMILAC (Centre for Military Airworthiness and Certification), among others.