Bengaluru: The Light Combat Aircraft (LCA) Tejas programme is heading towards the Final Operational Clearance (FOC) phase scheduled to be achieved by June this year. According to sources involved with the project, Derby missile will be fired in a guided mode during the first quarter of the year, clearing a key FOC parameter.
“In the air-to-air role, we have already fired the R-73 and it is the turn of Derby in guided mode now. In the air-to-ground phase, different types of bombs have already been dropped and tested. There are some software updates needed to fine-tune the accuracy of these missions,” an official told Mathrubhumi on Wednesday.
Interestingly, it was on January 4, 2001 LCA had its first flight with Wg Cdr Rajiv Kothiyal piloting the Technology Demonstrator-1. In the last 16 years, different platforms from the test flightline have completed around 3300 flights.
“If you add up the Squadron flights, the numbers will be more,” says the official. The Indian Air Force (IAF) now operates three Tejas fighters from Bengaluru.
No major hiccups in the programme
The official said that there are no major hiccups with programmes and the FOC deadlines will now be met.
“Software upgradation might happen even after FOC. We have already integrated the air-to-air-refuelling-probe on LSP-8 and it will soon undertake trials. Flight envelope checks are being done to see any variations in the aerodynamics performance,” says the official.
He said the engineers wanted to ensure that there is absolutely no influence on the air data parameters, post integration of the refuelling probe.
“First dry runs will be executed followed by wet fuel transfer. It is a complex mission,” adds the official.
The Russian gun (Gsh-23) has already been integrated on LSP-7 for the ground butt firing trials at Nasik. This will be followed by flight trials in the second quarter of the year.
The envelope expansion (8G) has already been achieved at the Bahrain International Air Show last year. The Angle of Attack (AoA) of 26 degrees has also been achieved, with the actual requirement being 24 degrees.
Tejas flypast at R-Day?
A fly-past by three-Tejas formation is likely this time during the R-Day Parade in Delhi.
According to sources, the IAF is mulling over the idea of moving away from convention of not flying single-engine fighters during R-Day Parade over Rajpath.
“Single-engine fighters did fly over Rajpath during R-Day parade many decades ago, including the Sea Harriers. This time there’s a thought process to fly the Tejas. A total of five Tejas platforms are being readied, including two from the flight test line as a stand-by. A final confirmation has to come from Air HQ,” says an official with DRDO.
During the upcoming 11th Aero India from February 14 in Bengaluru, Tejas will make its debut in Squadron colours. HAL is making all efforts to add one more fighter (SP-4) to the Squadron at the earliest.
The writer tweets @writetake)