Chief of Air Staff (CAS) Air Chief Marshal VR Chaudhari expressed concern over delay in acquisition of Light Combat Aircraft (LCA) Tejas, being manufactured by state-owned Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL), during Tuesday’s stakeholders meeting held to review the situation owing to the need to augment its fleet of fighter aircrafts down to 31 from the sanctioned strength of 42.

The review of the status of the Light Combat Aircraft (LCA) Tejas programme was also necessary due to the fact that, said top Ministry of Defence (MoD) sources, the threaterisation of the tri-services into possible three commands will roll out only after the IAF gets its fleet strength back.

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At the meeting at Air Headquarters here, Air Chief Marshal Chaudhari said “Notwithstanding the project delays that were brought out during the course of the review, the CAS lauded the efforts of all stakeholders and emphasised on the need to incorporate the lessons learnt from the LCA programme into future indigenous Design & Developmental projects. With timely deliveries of the more capable variant, the LCA Mk 1A is likely to see increased deployments at forward bases, besides participation in International exercises in the days to come,” the Ministry informed through an official statement. Senior functionaries from the Ministry, Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO), its lab Aeronautical Development Agency (ADA) and HAL., attended the meeting

The Air Chief while complimenting the HAL indicated that based on these assurances, the LCA Mk 1A could be inducted in a newly raised squadron in one of the IAF’s operational bases, early next year, the MoD stated. It was brought out that all contracted fighter variants of the LCA Mk 1 had been delivered to the IAF. Representatives of HAL assured the CAS of the timely delivery of the contracted twin-seaters in the coming months, as well, the Ministry pointed out. Further to the LCA Mk 1, 83 LCA Mk-1A aircraft have also been contracted by the IAF in 2021 and Chairman & Managing Director of HAL C B Ananthakrishnan assured those present that the deliveries of this advanced variant of the LCA would commence by February 2024.

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Given the nature of this project of national importance, it is required that all stakeholders adopt a collaborative approach towards its success, Chaudhari told the gathering. The programme has been the harbinger of Atmanirbhar Bharat and Make in India initiatives of the nation, he pointed out.

Tejas LSP-7 successfully fires ASTRA

Meanwhile, Tejas, Light Combat Aircraft (LCA) LSP-7, successfully fired the ASTRA indigenous Beyond Visual Range (BVR) air-to-air missile off the coast of Goa on Wednesday. The missile release was successfully carried out from the aircraft at an altitude of about 20,000 ft and all the objectives of the test were met and it was a perfect text book launch, the MoD announced.

The test launch was monitored by the Test Director and scientists of ADA, DRDO, HAL along with officials from Centre for Military Airworthiness and Certification (CEMILAC) and Directorate General of Aeronautical Quality Assurance (DG-AQA). The aircraft was also monitored by a Chase Tejas twin seater aircraft.