Light combat aircraft Tejas joins the IAF

India's indigenous light combat aircraft (LCA) Tejas has been inducted into the Indian Air Force (IAF) with the first two aircraft joining the `Flying Daggers' squadron today.

State-run Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL) will hand over the first two Tejas aircrafts to IAF, which will make up the 'Flying Daggers' 45 , the name of the first LCA squadron

The LCA squadron induction ceremony will be held at the Aircraft System Testing Establishment in the presence of Air Marshal Jasbir Walia, Air Officer Commanding-in Chief, Southern Air Command, officials said.

Tejas, a fourth-generation, lightweight, multi-role supersonic single-engine aircraft, is designed and developed by the Aeronautical Development Agency (ADA) in collaboration with defence PSU Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL).

Tejas has proved its mettle without facing a single crash in over 3,100 test flights since its first flight in January 2001 - a rare global achievement and a reflection of the quality of the aircraft design and development.

Tejas has a digital fly-by-wire system with on-board computer, helps enhance its manoeuvrability.

In addition, around 45 per cent of the Tejas airframe is made up of composites, which are among the highest for an aircraft of its class in the world. The widespread use of composites makes the aircraft lighter and reduces the number of parts which eases the serviceability and maintenance.

Tejas along with a trainer aircraft will now enter series production to make up IAF's first 45th squadron of `Flying Daggers'.

The induction is set to take place at the Aircraft Systems Testing Establishment (ASTE) in Bengaluru. HAL had handed over of the first series production version of the LCA to the Air Force in January 2015.

The induction of the LCA Tejas into the Air Force will allow the pilots and the crew to become more familiar with the aircraft and provide valuable feedback to the developers to improve future versions of the aircraft.

Tejas will be the second Indian-designed and manufactured fighter aircraft to be inducted into the Indian Air Force, after the HF-24 Marut, which was inducted into the Air Force in 1967 and performed very well in the 1971 India-Pakistan War.

The Naval version of the LCA received formal sanction from the government in March 2003 and the first flight of the LCA-Navy successfully took place on 27 April 2012. This was followed up with aircraft simulating take-off from a carrier at the Shore Based Test Facility (SBTF) at Goa on 20 December 2014.

In May 2016, the LCA-Naval prototype successfully conducted its first night time operations at the Goa test facility.

HAL also completed the design and manufacture of the basic trainer aircraft HTT-40, which successfully completed its first test flight on 3 May 2016.

The design of the basic trainer was completed between August 2013 and May 2015 with the prototype being rolled out in February 2016.

Designed by the German aeronautical engineer Kurt Tank, the design work on the Marut began in June 1957 with the aircraft taking flight three years later in April 1960. The first operational squadron of the HF-24 was formed in April 1967. 

However, with the country shifting focus to licensed production of imported aircraft like the MiG-21 and Jaguar, it lost the momentum of domestic designing and development capability that had been built up in the HAL with the HF-24 Marut fighter.