– LCA races to meet its target date With the recent Public Accounts Committee criticising the Hindustan Aeronautics Ltd (HAL) and the Aeronautical Development Agency (ADA) over failure in timely delivery of the Light Combat Aircraft (LCA) Tejas and with the deadline for the Final Operational Clearance (FOC) fast approaching, the agencies involved in the fighter jet’s development are working against time to meet the target date. December 2018-end has been fixed as the deadline for the FOC and though there is just 12 days left ADA, the nodal agency for the LCA programme, is confident that it would meet the target date.
ADA Officials had conveyed a meeting on Tuesday to discuss about the FOC and they expressed confidence that they would meet the December-end deadline.
The FOC-compliant Tejas would incorporate Beyond Visual Range (BVR) missiles, improved and better stand-off weapons and air-to-air refueling capability.
If the agencies are able to meet the FOC target it would exactly five years after the aircraft got the Initial Operational Clearance (IOC) tag.
On Tuesday Air Marshal B Suresh, Air Officer Commanding-in-Chief, Southern Air Command also had a firsthand experience of the aircraft as he took a sortie.
The Air Marshal also reviewed the production facility of the LCA-Tejas He also visited the Aircraft and Systems Testing Establishment (ASTE), HAL Bengaluru and Helicopter Complex, National Flight Test Centre (NFTC) and the ADA. At ADA, the Air Marshal was briefed on the future development plan of LCA and its advanced weapon integration.
The Public Accounts Committee in its recent report stated that it “observed that the LCA project was sanctioned in 1983 to provide replacement aircraft for Mig-21 series which were to complete their technical life and were to be phased out in 1990s. As specified in ASR (AIr Staff Requirement) specified in 1985, the LCA was to be inducted by 1994.
“The Committee are aghast to note that as July 31, 2018, IAF has only got nine out of the 200 fighter and 20 trainer aircraft envisaged in ASR. These six aircraft have been productionised after only Initial Operational Clearance (IOC) and are not combat ready, as yet. The committee are perturbed to note that the FOC has still not been achieved by the LCA even after more than 5 years of IOC. The ADA/HAL have also not been able to provide IAF with even a single production standard trainer aircraft till date,” it stated.
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