BENGALURU: Army Chief General Bipin Rawat flew in the indigenous LCA Tejas combat aircraft at the ongoing Aero India 2019 show in Bengaluru on Thursday. Principal Scientific Advisor to Government PS Raghavan is also scheduled to a ride in the aircraft later.
The Army Chief's sortie comes a day after Centre for Military Airworthiness and Certification (CEMILAC), the regulator for military aviation gave the Final Operation Clearance (FOC) to the home-grown fighter clearing way for induction into the Indian Air Force (IAF).
CEMILAC chief P Jayapal handed over the FOC certificate to Chief of Air Staff Air Chief Marshal BS Dhanoa at the Aero India show on Wednesday.
"It's a major milestone today. Tejas has taken part in Gaganshakti 2018 and Vayushakti recently. And it performed extremely well with a high sortie generation rate and the required weapons capabilities. We have got the Tejas Mk 1. Now we need Tejas Mk 2," he said.
Tejas Mark 1's operational clearance comes more than three-and-half decades after it was conceptualised. The fighter aircraft has been designed by the Aeronautical Development Agency (ADA) and Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL).
At the recently concluded Vayu Shakti exercise in Rajasthan's Pokhran, the LCA performed air-to-ground attacks and successfully displayed air-to-air refuelling, thus demonstrating its operational and strategic dexterity in contemporary combat situations.
The induction of Tejas is of immense importance for the IAF, which has been struggling with a dwindling number of squadrons. The Initial Operational Clearance (IOC), which paved way for the induction of the aircraft in IAF's 45 Squadron in July 2016, was obtained in 2013.
LCA Tejas, along with yet-to-be-inducted Rafale aircraft will form the mainstay of the IAF in the years to come along with existing Sukhoi-30 MKI fighters.