Bengaluru, Feb 22: Thrilled by the assurance given by the Chief of Air Staff Air Cheif Marshal Arup Raha, Team Tejas is on Cloud 9 as the curtains are drawn on 10th edition of Aero India 2015.
Putting an end to all speculations, Raha had categorically stated at Aero India that the Indian Air Force (IAF) has full faith in Tejas and its capabilities.
In an interview to OneIndia, P S Subramaniam, Aeronautical Development Agency (ADA) Director overseeing the Tejas project said that the Chief ‘s statement has rejuvenated the team.
IAF Chief's remarks lifted the team's morale
"We read it in the newspapers and it has lifted the morale of all entire teams in ADA, HAL, DRDO and NAL. In a development programme, delays are natural and we are now ensuring that the Final Operational Clearance (FOC) is achieved as planned in December," Subramaniam said.
As reported by OneIndia earlier, the IAF will start inducting Tejas series production (SP-3) aircraft onwards into IAF.
As per the contract, 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 IAF also needs 80 Tejas Mk-2s, which are being powered by the GE 414 engine.
Subramaniam claimed that they are confident of handing over the FOC versions of Tejas from SP-4 onwards.
"We are sure that from SP-4 onwards (likely to be rolled out by HAL during the end of 2015), IAF will start getting the Tejas that matches all FOC requirements. Hence, the IAF will be ready with 36 FOC Tejas aircraft, instead of 20 as per the order," Subramaniam said.
He said that Tejas has no critical technologies, which are older than four to five years. "We had accommodated so many changes during the development phase. Our mission is to ensure that all updates being demanded by IAF are given to them. At the end of the day, the IAF has every right to demand the best," Subramaniam said.
Squadron formation activities gather momentum in Sulur
He said the IAF technicians have already started their training sessions with HAL.
An ASMS (Aircraft System Maintenance Simulator) is also operational to train technicians on the maintenance of various systems on Tejas.
He confirmed that the civil works have already begun at Air Force Station Sulur, which will be the base for the Tejas.
"We are on an advisory mode now. The designers have already started interacting with the IAF team in Sulur on matters related to facilities," he said.
A Full Mission Simulator is expected to reach Sulur soon. He said the IAF pilots will start flying the Tejas officially from April onwards.
Photos: A Veeramani/Rahul Devnath
(The writer is a seasoned aerospace and defence journalist in India. He is the Consultant Editor (Defence) with OneIndia. He tweets @writetake.)