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India's fighter jet ‘LCA Tejas’ now fully combat-ready; gets Final Operational Clearance

Some of the more advanced capabilities of the FOC aircraft LCA Tejas are: Beyond Visual Range Missile capabilities, Air-to-Air Refuelling, Air-to-Ground FOC earmarked advanced weapons and delivery system, and general flight envelope expansion.

Feb 21, 2019 13:10 IST
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Landmark day for India's defence sector, India's first self-made fighter jet, Light Combat Aircraft Tejas MK I (LCA Tejas) on February 20, 2019 received the Final Operational Clearance for induction into the Indian Air Force (IAF) as a fully-weaponised fighter jet.

The formal declaration of Final Operational Clearance (FOC) of the aircraft was made by Dr G Satheesh Reddy, Chairman of Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) and Secretary of Defence (R&D).

The military aviation regulator CEMILAC handed over the FOC Certificate and other release-to-service documents to Chief of Air Staff Air Marshal Birender Singh Dhanoa during the ongoing ‘Aero India 2019’ event.

Prior to this, the LCA Tejas was an Initial Operational Clearance (IOC) aircraft.

Difference between FOC and IOC Aircraft

The Final Operational Clearance (FOC) aircraft has several additional capabilities compared to the Initial Operational Clearance (IOC) aircraft.

The primary difference is that a FOC aircraft has more advanced missile capability with a significantly enhanced range.

Some of the more advanced capabilities of the FOC aircraft LCA Tejas are: Beyond Visual Range Missile capabilities, Air-to-Air Refuelling, Air-to-Ground FOC earmarked advanced weapons and delivery system, and general flight envelope expansion.

Note: The Initial Operational Clearance (IOC) was accorded to the LCA Tejas aircraft in the year 2013 and was inducted into the Indian Air Force 45 Squadron in July 2016 to prepare for combat readiness. The 45 Squadron has since flown over 1500 sorties during the trials.

What follows next?

The FOC standard Aircraft drawings have already been handed over to Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL) to start production after incorporating key changes over the IOC standard Aircraft.

The Rangsons Defence Solutions (RSD) provides the capabilities, features and technologies that FOC standard Aircraft will have on Induction into IAF. The Indian Air Force recently placed an order of 83 advanced FOC aircraft of the LCA Tejas.

Tejas successfully completed first-ever mid-air refuelling trial

In a first, Tejas, the advanced version of India’s indigenously produced Light Combat Aircraft (LCA) was successfully refuelled mid-air by a Russian-origin Ilyushin-78 tanker on September 10, 2018.

The Air-to-Air Refuelling was a part of a ‘wet contact’ trial for LCA Tejas MK-1. The Russian-origin tanker refuelled the fighter plane, piloted by Wing Commander Siddarth Singh, with 1,900 litres of fuel at an altitude of 20,000 ft.

The air-to-air refuelling capability for LCA is a ‘force multiplier’ for the IAF, giving the aircraft the potential to stay airborne for a much longer period of time.

Organisations behind the LCA Tejas aircraft

The design, development and production of the LCA Tejas aircraft were carried out by Aeronautical Development Agency (ADA), the autonomous society of DRDO as the design agency. The Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL) is the manufacturer of the aircraft.

Many other DRDO laboratories like ADE, GTRE, LRDE, Centre for Military Airworthiness & Certification (CEMILAC), etc., as well as other agencies such as BEL, CSIR, DG-AQA, and Private sector agencies have contributed in the journey of LCA.

Light Combat Aircraft Tejas

The Light Combat Aircraft Tejas is a supersonic, single-seat, single-engine multirole light fighter aircraft that uses fourth generation technologies.

It was co-developed by the Aeronautical Development Agency in cooperation with the Bengaluru-based Hindustan Aeronautics Limited.

It is built from CFC materials and has unstable aerodynamics.

It is equipped with a quadruplex digital fly-by-wire flight control system to ease handling by the pilot.

It incorporates an advanced glass cockpit that comprises all the round dialed electro-mechanical instruments.

It is fitted with the coherent pulse-Doppler Multi Mode Radar that is designed to operate equally effectively in the Air to Air and Air to Surface domains.

It is fitted with Open Architecture Computer (OAC).

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