LCA Tejas gets Final Operational Clearance
The Indian Air Force (IAF) has received the Final Operational Clearance (FOC) standard certification for Light Combat Aircraft (LCA) Tejas from Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO). The DRDO’s FOC certification testifies the combat-readiness of Tejas.
The Centre for Military Airworthiness and Certification (CEMILAC) is a DRDO laboratory authorised to certify military aircraft and airborne systems. To get the final operational clearance, the aircraft must have battle-time capabilities of mid-air refuelling, AESA radar, electronic warfare suites, a variety of bombs and weapons, among others.
LCA Tejas is lightweight single-seat multi-role jet fighter powered by a single engine. It has tailless and compound delta wing design made entirely of composite structures. It is pegged as the world’s smallest and lightest supersonic fighter aircraft in its class.
LCA Tejas is first advanced fly-by-wire Light Combat Aircraft (LCA) designed, developed and manufactured indigenously by state-owned Hindustan Aeronautical Limited (HAL) and Aeronautical Development Agency (ADA) as part of LCA programme, started in the 1980s to replace India’s ageing MiG-21 fighters. It was named ‘Tejas’, which means ‘radiance’, by former prime minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee.
LCA Tejas is equipped with the quadruplex digital fly-by-wire flight control system to ease handling by the pilot. It also has a digital computer-based attack system and autopilot mode. It is also equipped with the satellite-aided Inertial Navigation System.
It has many features of stealth fighter aircraft. Its radar cross section is very less compared to other aircrafts like MiG-29, F-16 due to its small size and extensive usage of carbon composites. It incorporates a glass cockpit in which the pilot is fed with real-time information. It also has open architecture software for avionics which can be easily updated as and when required.
It has a limited reach of little over 400-km and will be mainly used for close air-to-ground operations (unlike Russian-origin Sukhoi-30MKIs or Rafale which have deep strike capability into enemy territory due to their long range).
It can fire air-to-air missiles, carry bombs and precision guided ammunition. DRDO has successfully tested fired Tejas with different kinds of weaponry and missiles including R-73 air-to-air missile, bomb dropping (including laser-guided bombs). DRDO also plans test firing of indigenous Astra missile from the Tejas.
LCA Tejas had commenced operations from Sulur Air Force Station in Tamil Nadu in July 2018, two years after it was formally inducted into IAF. The fighter jet is part of ‘Flying Daggers’ of 45 Squadron of IAF. Southern Air Command based in Kerala capital Thiruvananthapuram has been entrusted with the responsibility of integrating fighter aircraft in IAF’s concept of operations.