Mysuru, Jan 01: India's Light Combat Aircraft (LCA) Tejas cleared one of the most critical flight test parameters in the programme, when the pilots pulled 8 'g' (limit of envelope) during its ongoing test flights in Bengaluru.
By doing so, it has cleared a key point towards the Final Operational Clearance (FOC), as mandated by the Indian Air Force (IAF).
Sources told OneIndia that Tejas pilots pulled 8 ‘g' and beyond a couple of times during trials held in the last fortnight of December.
Commodore Jaideep Maolonkar, Chief Test Pilot at National Flight Test Centre (NFTC) and Group Capt Rangachari, a Test Pilot of NFTC achieved this critical task taking the fighter closer to the FOC.
Interestingly, officials at the Defence Research Development Organisation (DRDO), Hindustan Aeronautics Ltd (HAL) and Aeronautical Development Agency (ADA) were tight-lipped about this major milestone achieved.
As reported by OneIndia earlier, scientists and engineers are now engaged in last-minute preparations to take Tejas for the 4th edition of Bahrain International Air Show (BIAS-2016), being held from January 21-23 at the Sakhir Airbase. This will be Tejas' first official outing outside India to participate in a flying demonstration.
Fighter can now perform combat maneuvers
"The 8 'g' is the limit of the flight envelope which permits aircraft to perform combat maneuvers. This will enable the pilots to do tight turns. They have demonstrated it a couple of times. The pilots are comfortable and aircraft behaved itself," a source said.
As this piece goes live on New Year's Day, the Tejas programme has so far (from 2001) logged 3031 flights (1938 hours) with nearly 15 variants joining the programme at different stages.
Though Tejas skipped the December 2015 deadline for attaining the FOC, the year otherwise was a satisfying one with the first Series Production aircraft (SP1) being handed over to IAF during early January.
"Being a weapon platform, Tejas has to perform in extreme climatic conditions. Therefore the vigorous testing pursued at Leh (-20deg C) and at Jaiselmer (+40deg C) concludes the aircraft can perform in almost all weather conditions effortlessly. Very few aircraft can demonstrate such capabilities," claims the source.
(The writer is a seasoned aerospace and defence journalist in India. Currently a Post-Doctoral Fellow with University of Mysore, he is a Consulting Editor (Defence) with OneIndia. He tweets @writetake.)