State owned Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL) has produced 16th indigenous Light Combat Aircraft (LCA) `Tejas as per the target set and this will be followed by the customer flights which too are expected to be completed this month.
So far HAL has an order book for 40 LCAs — 16 fighters each in Initial Operational Clearance (IOC) and Final Operational Clearance (FOC) and 8 trainers from Indian Air Force (IAF). The aircraft was inducted into IAF squadron Flying Daggers on July 1, 2016.
The production of LCA commenced in 2014 with a current production capacity of eight aircraft per annum. A second production line has been established at Aircraft Division (Bangalore Complex), which is carrying out structural assembly, final assembly and equipping of the aircraft.
The company had received drawings and documents related to FOC with limited clearance for LCA (Tejas) from Center for Military Airworthiness and Certification (CEMILAC) and Aeronautical Development Agency (ADA), which paved the way for the work to be started towards the manufacturing of FOC standard fighter aircraft. The first aircraft in FOC configuration may roll-out by the end of this calendar year.
R Madhavan, CMD, HAL to Financial Express Online, had explained the same and said that that with the drawings in hand the planning and procurement processes for FOC aircraft will start.
Last month, the home made LCA had demonstrated its combat capability in the IAF s Gagan Shakti exercise by firing the Air-to-Air BVR Derby missile. And for the first time the Made in India LCA will be flying at the Langkawi International Maritime Aerospace Expo (Lima- 2019) in Malaysia starting Tuesday, where HAL will be providing the technical support at the show.
It may be recalled that last year, with its increased thrust towards technology development, the Company had ensured that the IAF will be able to fly the indigenously developed LCA `Tejas with hot refuelling capacity jointly developed by HAL and ADA, which has also developed and manufactured carbon-fibre composite (CFC) structures and skins, and a modern glass cockpit. After thirty long years, the home grown aircraft has reached this stage.
When was Tejas born?
The idea of an indigenous fighter aircraft was conceptualised in the 1970s, and the work had started only in 1983. The Tejas is not 100 per cent indigenous as it is not cost effective and needs huge infrastructure. The main structure and sub-systems of the aircraft are indigenised and the remaining parts are imported.
In the early developing years of the aircraft, the state owned Company had faced many technological challenges including sanctions on import of carbon fibre, establishing the entire tooling and manufacturing capability by in-house design of tooling and test equipments and incorporation of world class manufacturing standards.
The plane is made of composite and it is light and very agile; it also comes with smart ammunition and bombs which help it to hit targets in a precise manner.
What is Hot Refuelling?
Hot refuelling is single point pressure refuelling of the aircraft with the engine in operation. It is a process by which a fighter aircraft is refuelled (in between sorties) while its engine is in operation, thereby cutting down the refuelling time by half and turn-around time significantly.
The Hot Refuelling capability is highly desired in combat situations as it basically puts aside the need for the pilot to park the aircraft, power down and exit the cockpit for refuelling to begin.