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Aero India 2019: India's Home Grown LCA Tejas Finally Gets The Final Operational Clearance (FOC) For The Enhanced Combat Capabilities

A great day for India's home grown Light Combat Aircraft (LCA) Tejas MK I and Indian Air Force (IAF), when the formal declaration of Final Operational Clearance (FOC) of the aircraft was made at Aero India 2019. IAF is ready to order 83 Tejas MK-1A that would give it more firepower.

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A great day for India's home grown Light Combat Aircraft (LCA) Tejas MK I and  Indian Air Force (IAF), when the formal declaration of Final Operational Clearance (FOC) of the aircraft was made by Secretary Defence R&D and Chairman DRDO Dr G Satheesh Reddy. The day also witnessed the handing over of FOC Certificate and Release to Service Document (RSD) to the Chief of Air Staff in the presence of Defence Secretary and CMD, HAL.

“It a major milestone today that we have got the FOC for the LCA Mark 1,"said B.S.Dhanoa, chief of Air Staff, after the formal handing over of the documents at The Yelahanka Air Force Station.

AIr Chief also added that the IAF will soon issue the request for proposal (RFP) for 83 Tejas MK-1A that would give it more firepower.

FOC involves addition of key capabilities to the Initial Operational Clearance (IOC) aircraft which in main are Beyond Visual Range Missile capabilities. Air-to-Air Refuelling, Air-to-Ground FOC earmarked weapons and general flight envelope expansion. 

The RSD provides the capabilities, features and technologies that FOC standard Aircraft will have on Induction into IAF. The FOC standard Aircraft drawings have already been handed over to Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL) to start production after incorporating key changes over the IOC standard Aircraft.

Initial Operational Clearance (IOC) of the aircraft took place in the year 2013 and IOC standard Aircraft were inducted into IAF No. 45 Squadron, in July 2016. The IAF Squadron has since flown over 1500 sorties successfully on the Aircraft.

But the journey has witnesses many challenges and subsequent delays. The Tejas was developed under the Light Combat Aircraft program as a replacement for MiG-21 fighters jets. The single-engine powered by General Electric F404 turbofan with ultimate speed of Mach 1.6 to 1.8, and load capacity 7,700 pounds with refueling probe, the Tejas remains unexceptional compared to top-performing fourth-generation light fighters.  However, it  also took decades for the LCA to ramp up the production, and it still continues to rely on foreign components, including an Israeli Doppler radar and General Electric F404 turbofan engines. 

LCA's percentage employment of composite material  is one of the highest among contemporary aircraft of its class. And the very fact makes the plane much lighter with fewer joints or rivets, which increases the aircraft's reliability and lowers its susceptibility to structural fatigue cracks.

 According to statement of the official involved in the project Tejas: "It is a proud day for all the agencies involved in the design, development and production of the aircraft i.e., Aeronautical Development Agency (ADA), the autonomous society of DRDO as the design agency and Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL) as the manufacturer."

Besides DRDO, many other DRDO laboratories like ADE, GTRE, LRDE, CEMILAC etc., as well as other agencies such as BEL, CSIR, DG-AQA, and Private sector agencies have contributed in the journey of LCA.


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