New Delhi: In an attempt to speed up some aspects of the LCA programme, India is likely to offer European consortium EADS a $20 million contract to provide technical help in the flight trials of the indigenous Light Combat Aircraft (LCA) programme. Even as reports in the media suggest that the deal may be signed during the forthcoming AeroIndia 2009 air show, commencing 11 February at Yelahanka, Bangalore. DRDO sources suggested very likely the deal could be inked sometime over the next three months.
Technical and commercial bids for the deal had been invited from EADS, Saab of Sweden, Dassault of France, Boeing and Lockheed Martin of the United States, and MiG Corp. of Russia.
Through the deal DRDO's Aeronautical Development Agency expects the shortlisted company, in this case EADS, to help speed the LCA's flight testing through its initial operational clearance (IOC) and final operational clearance (FOC) phases.
The areas of cooperation could include flight envelope expansion; testing for high angle of attack; aero database validation; external stores carriage with emphasis on stores separation; wake modeling and penetration flight tests; and refinements to existing simulation models.
The LCA programme is currently entering the weapons integration stage and the first lot of aircraft are expected to be inducted into the Indian Air Force (IAF) by 2010. The IAF has ordered 20 of these aircraft in the initial phase.
DRDO expects to achieve initial operational clearance with the help of a indigenously developed multimode radar integrated with a weapons suite. It is estimated that FOC could take three years, and an additional 1,500 hours of flight testing, to achieve.
The LCA is a single-seat, single-engine, supersonic multirole air superiority fighter jet of the fourth generation.