On 04 Jan 2019, the second indigenous Fighter Jet for the IAF will receive the FOC- Final Operational Clearance nearly 18 years after the first prototype took to the skies. The of Light Combat Aircraft Tejas is on the verge of making history notwithstanding many naysayers wishing that it should vanish into history instead.
On 31 Dec2018, the last working day of the Year, HAL received the Drawing Applicability Lists of Tejas aircraft from DRDO. DAL is the standard of preparation for production that forms the basis for the final product to be delivered to the customer. Defence Research and Development Organisation Director General Dr Tessy Thomas himself handed over the DAL to HAL Chairman, as confirmed.
“Keeping the deadline set for FOC, the build standard documents have been handed over yesterday. A formal announcement will be made this month after we complete the procedures,” an official said.
Though no official announcement has been made on the subject and both HAL and Aeronautical Development Agency have been silent but reliable sources confirm that the much-awaited FOC for the project is now just a formality. A meeting of CEMILAC representatives, HAL, ADA and Indian Air Force held in Delhi last week seems to have taken the decision on FOC.
The release of final DAL signals the completion of FOC procedures. Even if there are some fine-tuning needs to be done, they are not flight-critical in nature. “The last weapon firing tests of Tejas has been a huge success. We can go on fine-tuning the platform, but the production agency too needs to fulfil their goals. A lot of official documents linked to the project will get finalised now,” an official said.
In 2018, Tejas logged a total of 619 flights, the highest ever in one year. HAL had begun the work on FOC based on provisional DAL released last year. HAL will now produce the first FOC aircraft in nine months from now.HAL had begun initial production work of FOC variants of Tejas in November last.
The sub-assemblies of front fuselage for SP-21 to SP-24 have already been completed. These will now be shifted to the main jig. HAL is confident that the first FOC fighter (SP-21) will fly out by October this year.
With the vendors set to start supplying structures and reduced cycle time for production already in place, the LCA Division of HAL is striving hard to script an inspiring story for TEJAS in 2019-2020.