Tejas SP-2 takes to skies; HAL says plans on track
Bengaluru: The second series production (SP-2) aircraft from the hangars of Hindustan Aeronautics Ltd (HAL) had its maiden flight on Tuesday.
Military sources confirmed to Mathrubhumi that the SP-2 fighter was piloted by Group Capt K K Venugopal (Retd).
“The SP-2 took off at 02:06 pm and stuck to the text-book flight-plan as mandated during the first couple of test sorties. The flight lasted for 37 minutes and the pilot landed back at 2:43 pm,” an official said.
HAL is yet to officially announce the details of the maiden flight.
The first series production variant SP-1 had its first flight on September 30, 2014 and it flew for 25-minutes, touching a maximum speed of 0.6 Mach, then.
Top officials from HAL, DRDO and Aeronautical Development Agency were in New Delhi on Tuesday for a meeting called by Ministry of Defence.
“We are on track. The production plans will scale up now,” says an official from HAL.
During a recent visit to the HAL’s Tejas Division in Bengaluru, Mathrubhumi had witnessed hectic activities ahead of SP-2’s first flight.
HAL has to produce another 18 more Tejas fighters in the Initial Operational Clearance (IOC) standard, so that the Indian Air Force (IAF) can begin formation of initial squadrons.
Another order for 100 aircraft (Tejas MK1-A) too will have to be taken up by HAL in future.
HAL officials now say that the SP-3 would fly by July and from then on the production rate would pick up. A separate plan to ramp up the production schedule of Tejas is in the pipeline.
Interestingly, the Tejas SP-2 had its maiden flight on a day when the fighter was drawn into yet another controversy over a failed Laser Guided Bomb (LGB) that missed the target during Iron Fist.