TEJAS Spreads It’s Wings To Soar Further In The Indian Sky
Suddenly TEJAS seems to becoming very “Tej”. The No45 Squadron IAF is flying high and the inputs received from the Tejas aircrafts with Initial Operational Clearance flying at Sulur are superb.
The appointment of Air Marshal R K S Bhadauria as the next Chief of Air Staff too has come at the right time for the LCA-Tejas.
The VCAS,as C-In -C Southern Air Force had seen Tejas taking baby steps. He was instrumental in the No 45 Squadron Flying Daggers moving to AFS Sulur from Bengaluru, ahead of schedule and then taking part in last years Air Exercise.
Now in the Final Operational Clearance block, HAL needs to manufacture 16 fighters, at rapid speed, so as to complete the task by March 2021.
This is easily achievable as HAL has a motivated and dedicated team who gained expertise and technical acumen through the IOC aircraft production process. This has increased the confidence of our team.
Series Production aircraft the first LCA Tejas fighter from the FOC block, SP-21, is set for independent and integrated system checks at HAL LCA-Tejas Division.
“In aeronautical parlance, the first fighter in the FOC category is in the equipping stage of the production life cycle. We are confident of its first flight in two months,” an official said.
HAL had initiated actions towards fabrication of various common parts and assemblies to meet timeline requirements of Indian Air Force (IAF) and this is now showing results on ground.
The final Drawing Applicability List for Tejas FOC variants was received during February 2019 by HAL. DAL is the standard of preparation for production that forms the basis for the final product to be delivered to the customer.
The FOC configuration of the aircraft has been evolved based on various technological improvements on the Initial Operational Clearance (IOC) block of 16 fighters, now operated by IAF.
Among the key features that have been added to improve the performance are: air-to-air refueling probe, Gsh-23 mm gun, pressure refueling with three drop tank configuration, integration of 725 and 450 liters of drop tank, improved wing navigation lamp, in-flight wind mill relight, tandem pylon and zoom climb to name a few.
HAL has developed a good vendor base across India for supplying detail parts, sub-assemblies and major assemblies like complete wing and fuselage for the LCA production.
Presently 45 per cent of the LCA components are being sub-contracted. Moves are afoot to indigenize imported LRUs to further improve the private partnership in the programmme.
“This would enable us to increase the production rate of LCA. Out of 16 FOC strike aircraft, four are planned to be delivered by this FY (March 2020) and remaining 12 fighters will be delivered within next FY (March 2021),” says the official.
The LCA-Tejas Division has now cut down the lead time for production from 18 months to just 8 months. The LCA-Tejas Division is a comparatively new wing of HAL and is propelled by 800 plus engineers and workmen.
The ball is squarely now in MoD court.
Raksha Mantri needs to ensure that orders for 83 MK-1A are placed without further delay. An early order and simultaneous actions at various level will speed up things a lot.
May be even a new production line is set up so as to give us 24 Tejas MK1A per year with effect 2023-24. This variant is likely to get export orders too from Vietnam, Malaysia and few others.
With all major issues sorted out, a renewed effort on MK 2 version may even see its first flight very soon.