Bengaluru | More than three decades after the project was sanctioned, home-grown Light Combat Aircraft Tejas was handed over today to Indian Air Force by Defence Minister Manohar Parikkar marking a major milestone in the country’s military aviation.
Air Chief Marshal Arup Raha, Chief of Air Staff, received the aircraft documents from Parrikar with the handing over, signalling the start of a process of induction of the supersonic fighters under a project that has cost Rs 8,000 crore to the exchequer.
The project that has missed several deadlines is Rs 30,000 crore, which would see Tejas, a 4.5th Generation Aircraft that is lighter in weight with greater agility and manoeuvrability, replace ageing MiG-21s in IAF’s combat fleet. The entire project by DRDO and Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL), including the final induction in the Air Force and Navy, is estimated to cost over Rs 30,000 crore.
Speaking at the ceremony with media kept at bay, Parrikar congratulated HAL and everyone involved in the project and asked them to think ‘out of the box’ to meet the time-line challenges by applying the right management tools.
Thrust should be given on research and technology by exploiting the existing knowledge base which companies like HAL have, he said.
One does not achieve everything over-night. However, by modifying our work culture and by adopting better technology and tools we can achieve the results better, he added.
Raha said LCA is the need of the hour, given the operational needs of IAF and added we are happy to receive the documents of the first series production of LCA.
He complimented HAL for handing over this aircraft, which would allow its induction and subsequent formation of first Tejas squadron. The aircraft that has been handed over has got Initial Operational Clearance-II, which signifies that Tejas is airworthy in different conditions, sources said. The Final Operational Clearance (FOC) is expected by year-end.
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