Indian Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar handed over the first unit of the indigenously-built Light Combat Aircraft (LCA) Tejas to the Indian Air Force (IAF) in Bengaluru. The event took place in the presence of Air Chief Marshal Anup Raha at the aircraft manufacturing facility known as the Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL) in Bengaluru city.
The LCA aircraft was notorious for multiple delays and performance issues in the past. It has finally been handed over to the Air Force post Initial Operational Clearance-II, which tells that the aircraft Tejas is airworthy now.
This new induction is the start of induction of fighter jets being built at home. Not to forget, the project was commenced in 1983 and has already cost the exchequer over Rs 17,000 crores. 32 years of delay raised many questions on professional skills and expertise of the Indian Air Force and the HAL.
The Initial Operational Clearance-I was given in January 2011. The Final Operational Clearance (III) is targeted by the year-end.
Around 20 jets will be developed by 2018, which will make the first squadron of the aircraft.
DRDO chief Avinash Chander, whose contract was terminated by the Minister recently with effect from January 31, was not present.
The LCA program was started to replace the ageing fleet of MiG-21s but has missed several deadlines due to several reasons. The program is further expected to be handed over supply of jets to the Indian Navy.