Saturday, March 17, 2012

IAF set to induct 6 LCA squadrons

First two Tejas aircraft will be stationed in TN

Giving a big thrust to the indigenous fighter jet programme, Indian Air Force (IAF) has decided to induct six squadrons of Tejas light combat aircraft over the next 10 years, which will allow the IAF to pack more punch in its aerial strikes.

“IAF plans to induct six LCA squadrons by the end of the 13th Plan,” minister of state for defence M M Pallam Raju said in the Rajya Sabha on Wednesday.

The development phase for LCA (light combat force) began in 1983 and the first technology demonstrator flew in 2001. Four years later, IAF placed the first order of 20 Tejas at a cost of Rs 2,700 crore. Subsequently, it placed order for another squadron.

The first two squadrons – 40 aircraft – of LCA, are first generation Mark-I version. The additional four squadrons would be Tejas Mark-II aircraft with a higher powered engine.

Raju indicated that money would not come in the way of LCA development. The Centre sanctioned Rs 11,845.2 crore to Aeronautical Development Agency (ADA) till date while the total expenditure incurred so far is Rs 5,051.46 crore, he said.

Only last week, the penultimate developmental aircraft Tejas limited series production - 7 (LSP-7) successfully undertook its maiden flight from HAL airport. The LSP-7 aircraft, along with LSP- 8 will be offered to the IAF for user evaluation trials.

The LSP-7 flight is also the first time that a LCA maiden flight was not accompanied by the customary chase aircraft, which is an indicator to the level of confidence defence scientists and IAF have in the machine, defence research and development organisation stated. IAF plans to station the first two LCA squadron at Sulur near Coimbatore and Kayathir near Tuticorin.

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