Bengaluru, Oct 8: A top official in Defence Research and Development Organization (DRDO) said on Wednesday that ‘only time will prove the worth' of the home-grown fighter - the Light Combat Aircraft (LCA) Tejas.
Speaking to OneIndia on a day when the Indian Air Force (IAF) is celebrating its 83rd anniversary, the official said that the Tejas Squadron would corner all the glory at the AF Day Parade at Hindon, next year.
"Tejas will be participating in Iron Fist in 2016 and will demonstrate the BVR (Beyond Visual Range) missile launching and stick bombing capabilities with tandem bomb carrier in swing role. We can certainly envisage Tejas to don the IAF colours during the IAF Day celebrations in 2016 with at least five aircraft. Only inducted platforms perform at AF Day celebrations," the official said.
He dismissed all anti-Tejas rant saying the worth of the fighter will be known only after it is produced in large numbers. "Let the machine do all the talking," he said.
More weapon trials in the next six months
To a query on the weapon trials, the official said that Tejas had completed hot weather trials on the trainer version during July this year.
"All the system of LCA-AF trainer performed satisfactory during the trials at ambient of 48 degrees Celsius. Significant preparatory work for the balance weapon work has been carried out in this quarter and actual weapon deployment is planned over the next six months," he added.
When asked about the challenges being faced by the team now, the official cited the integrations of air-to-air refueling probe, supersonic drop tank and BVR missile integration with radar as examples.
"The relevant flight tests for completion of the Final Operational Clearance (FOC), tops our agenda now. Towards this the design and development work has already been completed. The aircraft integration and flight testing is on schedule. The BVR is likely to get released with MMR (Multi-Mode Radar) integrated with quartz radome by March 2016," he said.
Squadron formation preparations in full swing
Around 60 per cent work towards the formation of the Tejas Squadron is completed at Bengaluru.
"The O-Level training to IAF technicians has been completed. The air crew training on mission simulator is likely to be completed by November this year. About 70 per cent of GSE/GHE (Ground Support Equipment/Ground Handling Equipment) procurement is also completed," he added.
The technical publications and flight manuals have already been delivered to the IAF. Initially, the IAF has planned to operate the aircraft from Bangalore and then shift to the permanent Tejas Squadron base in Sulur (Tamil Nadu).
The IAF too has taken up a series of modernization work at Sulur to welcome the new entrant into its fold.
As reported by OneIndia during Aero India 2015, the Hindustan Aeronautics Ltd (HAL) will have to deliver a total of 20 Tejas series production aircraft in the Initial Operational Clearance (IOC) format and another 20 in the FOC mode.
The Tejas Mk-2s would be powered by the GE 414 engine. In addition to a higher thrust engine, the Mk-2 would have the benefits of better performance, improved flight and mission systems and greater maintainability.
Upgraded Tejas Mk1A will be more user-friendly
The official confirmed that the LCA MK1A would be an improved product with better maintainability to make it more user-friendly.
"We are planning MK1As with enhanced survivability embedded with an integrated EW suite, which would give an improved sensor performance over Mk1s. This is planned for the larger number of aircraft intended by IAF," the official, who chose not to be named, said.
The official claimed that Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar has given ‘a new direction' to the project through an accelerated approach during his frequent interactions. He said HAL is geared up to roll out at least four series production aircraft by March 2016.
The first of Series Production (SP-1) aircraft has already been handed over to IAF and another 19 more are expected from HAL to complete the MK1 production schedules in the IOC format.