New Delhi: After nearly three decades of
development, India`s indigenous Light Combat Aircraft (LCA)
will obtain its Initial Operational Clearance (IOC) in the
second week of January next, taking its last step before
induction into the Indian Air Force (IAF).
"The IOC is expected to come sometime around January 10
and it will be witnessed by Defence Minister A K Antony and
IAF Chief Air Chief Marshal P V Naik in Bangalore," a senior
Defence Ministry official said here today.
Being India`s long-time-in-the-works project, LCA design
and development by the Defence Research and Development
Organisation (DRDO) and Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL)
was approved by the government in the late 1960s.
Nicknamed `Tejas` in 2004, the LCA designing had been
launched in 1985 by the Aeronautical Development Agency (ADA)
under the DRDO with HAL as the nodal manufacturing agency.
With the IOC coming in January, the IAF intends to induct
two squadrons of the LCA by the middle of 2011. The IAF had
first placed the orders for 40 LCAs in March 2005.
The first 40 LCAs will be powered by the American General
Electric GE-F404 engines.
"The LCA will be inducted into the IAF sometime in the
middle of next year," Naik had informed an aerospace seminar
IAF also has plans to induct five more squadrons (100
aircraft) in the coming years but with a more powerful engine,
the announcement for which came in 2009.
The government had a couple of months ago chosen GE-F414
as the new engine for future LCAs after rejecting its
competitor Eurojet`s EJ200 engine. A total of 99 GE-F414
engines are to be purchased under the deal with General
The IAF may ultimately have around 200 LCAs (10 squadrons)
in its fleet, primarily to replace the ageing Russian MiG-21
and MiG-27 fighter jets.
IAF is likely to base the first of its LCA squadrons in
one of the air bases in south India and Sulur near Coimbatore
in Tamil Nadu is touted to be that air base.