The Indian Air Force on Friday got an edge with the induction of the first squadron of indigenously-built light combat aircraft (LCA) Tejas. Two Tejas aircraft joined No. 45 Squadron also called the ‘Flying Daggers.
Tejas is the first advance fly-by-wire (FBW) fighter aircraft designed, developed, and manufactured in India, said an official press release. Conceived as a MiG-21 replacement, the aircraft has been designed and developed by the Aeronautical Development Agency (ADA) and produced by the public sector Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL).
The LCA has flown more than 3,000 sorties and done 2,000 hours till date without any accident. Tejas is a 4th Plus generation aircraft with a glass cockpit and is equipped with state-of-the-art satellite-aided Inertial Navigation System. It has a digital computer based attack system and an autopilot. It can fire air-to-air missiles, bombs, and precision-guided munitions.
The induction of the aircraft is being planned in a phased manner. These aircraft are also capable of dropping unguided bombs with much higher accuracy due to a highly-advanced indigenous mission computer. The IAF is also pitching for additional LCA Mk 1A which would incorporate the new generation Active Electronically Scanned Array (AESA) Radar with simultaneous air-to-air and air-to-ground capability, an integrated advanced Electronic Warfare Suite, advanced versions of air-to-air and air-to-ground weapons and maintainability improvements, the official release said.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi has expressed pride and happiness over the induction of Tejas fighter jet into the Air Force. “Induction of indigenously made Tejas fighter jet into the Air Force fills our hearts with unparalleled pride and happiness. I laud HAL and ADA on the induction of Tejas fighter jet. This illustrates our skills and strengths to enhance indigenous defence manufacturing”, the Prime Minister said.
Pride and happiness notwithstanding, there are certain realities the country should not lose sight of. What is being rolled out now, Former Air Vice-Marshal Kapil Kak told a newspaper, cannot be deployed in sensitive combat theatres in the east and west “for at least 10 years.” The completely combat-ready version of the LCA, the Tejas 1A, may not be out by 2030.