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LCA Tejas attains Initial Operational Clearance with the Indian Air Force


In what was a landmark event in Indian aviation history, the indigenously developed ‘Tejas’ Light Combat Aircraft (LCA) obtained full Initial Operational Clearance (IOC) on December 20. The formal ‘Release to Service Certificate’ was handed over by defence minister A.K. Antony to outgoing Indian Air Force (IAF) chief NAK Browne during a ceremony in Bengaluru.

The declaration of full IOC for the Tejas paves the way for its entry into squadron service with the IAF. The Tejas programme attained yet another milestone a week after obtaining the IOC, when a record 500 sorties were flown in a calendar year, overtaking the previous landmark of 300 sorties being achieved in a calendar year. The IAF will acquire 40 aircraft for two squadrons, the first 20 will be built by Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL) to IOC standard and the last batch of 20 will be in Final Operational Clearance (FOC) standard.

For a programme that has been dogged by delays since its inception, the grant of full IOC on schedule was a welcome change. The Aeronautical Development Agency (ADA) has promised that FOC will be obtained by December 2014. A number of tasks need to be completed before the grant of FOC involving the integration of RAFAEL Advanced Defence Systems Python-5 (a fifth generation air-to-air missile), integration of the GSh-23 (23mm) cannon, fitment of the In-Flight Refuelling (IFR) probe and expansion of the envelope to 24 degree’s Angle of Attack (AoA) from the present 22 degrees. Work on attaining the FOC parameters has been underway for two years now and director ADA P.S. Subramanyam told FORCE that 30 to 40 per cent of the FOC tasks had already been completed. Clearing the flight envelope to 24 degrees is likely to be completed in six to eight months.
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