The first Light Combat Aircraft (LCA) Mk1A successfully took to the skies for 18 minutes from defence PSU Hindustan Aeronautics Ltd (HAL) facility in Bengaluru on Thursday.

The Tejas Mk1A will have an advanced electronic radar, warfare, communication systems, additional combat capability and improved maintenance features, the HAL officially stated.

Piloted by Chief Test Pilot, Group Captain K K Venugopal, the indigenously produced first LCA Mk1A, carrying registration number “LA5033”, took a successful sortie with a flying time of 18 minutes, HAL shared in its statement.

“HAL achieved this significant production milestone with concurrent design and development amid major supply chain challenges in the global geo-political environment after the contract signature in February 2021”, said CMD of HAL, C. B. Ananthakrishnan.

However, the deadline for the first delivery of the Tejas Mk1A to the Indian Air Force has been delayed beyond the commitment of March 31 because of iterations made by the customer and supply chain constraints, Ministry of Defence sources said.

Contract with IAF

HAL CMD Ananthakrishnan also hinted at the global supply challenges due to the geo-political environment in his statement on successful flight of the LCA MK1A.

In February 2021, the IAF signed a contract with the HAL for 83 LCA Mk1As fighters for ₹48,000 crore. The IAF has plans to buy 97 more Mk-1As at a cost of around ₹67,000 crore but it’s still to ink the deal with the HAL. As of now, the IAF has a fleet of Tejas buts wants improved version of the LCA to augment its fighting capabilities.

HAL officials stated that the aircraft will undergo more test flights which makes it difficult to talk about fresh deadline of handing over the fighter jet to the IAF.

HAL thanked the MoD, IAF, Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) and its affiliates –Aeronautical Development Agency (ADA) Centre for Military Airworthiness and Certification (CEMILAC)– Directorate General of Aeronautical Quality Assurance (DGAQA) and the MSMEs who have contributed to the success of this programme.

“With the continued support of these stakeholders, the country can look forward to early induction of the Tejas Mk1A by the IAF and more numbers through the three lines of production established at HAL,” the PSU stated, hinting that it would ramp up the production of jets.