New Delhi: Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar handed over the first of the indigenously-built Light Combat Aircraft (LCA) Tejas to the Indian Air Force (IAF) in Bengaluru on Saturday.
The ceremony took place in the presence of Air Chief Marshal Anup Raha at the Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL) in Bengaluru.
The LCA has finally been handed over to the Air Force after initial operational clearance-II, which signifies that the Tejas is airworthy in different conditions. This starts the process of induction of fighters being built at home under a project that was commenced in 1983 and has already cost the exchequer over Rs 17,000 crores.
The Initial Operational Clearance-I was granted to the aircraft being built by state-owned HAL in January 2011. The Final Operational Clearance is expected by the year-end.
According to sources, 20 aircraft will be built by 2017-2018, to make the first squadron of the aircraft.
The LCA programme was initiated in 1983 to replace the ageing MiG-21s in Indian Air Force's combat fleet but has missed several deadlines due to several reasons.
(With ANI inputs)