Operational clearance for LCA Tejas delayed further

The indigenously developed Light Combat Aircraft, Tejas, is now expected to get its final operational clearance (FOC) some time in the beginning of 2017 against the earlier planned mid-2016 schedule.

The delay in final operational clearance for Tejas, coming after the aircraft took part in aerobatic performance at the Bahrain International Airshow 2016 in February and demonstration of firing skills later during Iron Fist 2016 exercises, is mainly because of failures on the weapons integration front, say experts.

The Laser Guided Bomb (LGB) fired from Tejas is reported to have missed the target during the Exercise Iron Fist 2016.

DRDO sources say the aircraft is not yet fully ready with the integration of air-to-air refuelling tests. Also, some more tests of Beyond-Visual- Range Air-to- Air Missile (BVRAAM) Derby missile are still remaining. Further, radar testing is on", said an official associated with the project.

The air-to-air refuelling tests in all probability will be completed in Rajasthan or from Jamnagar, DRDO sources say.

DRDO officials in Delhi attribute the delay in FOC to procedural lapses. They also attribute the Laser Guided Bomb (LGB) fired from Tejas missing the target during the Exercise Iron Fist 2016 to bad weather and the 'probability percentage of failure' inherent to such systems.

Tejas is a single seater, single engine multi-role light fighter aircraft developed indigenously by Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL). It has the fly-by-wire, state-of-the-art open architecture computer for avionics and better weapon and combat capability.

The official said while the ground integration of fifth generation Air- to-Air Close Combat Missile, Python 5 is over; its aerial trials along with those for Beyond-Visual-Range Air-to-Air Missile (BVRAAM) Derby missile are pending. Tejas had earlier successfully test fired the BVRAAM Derby missile.