The Indian Air Force(IAF) got its first indigenously built Light Combat Aircraft(LCA) when Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar handed over LCA Tejas Series Production – 1 to IAF Chief Air Marshal Arup Raha in Bengaluru on Saturday 17th January.
Built to replace the ageing MiG-21 aircrafts , LCA Tejas is the smallest and lightest Multi-Role Supersonic Fighter Aircraft of its class. This single engine, Compound-Delta-Wing, Tailless Aircraft is designed and developed by Aeronautical Development Agency(ADA) with Hindustan Aeronautics Limited(HAL) as the principal partner along with DRDO, CSIR, BEL, DGAQA, Public and Private Undertakings and several academic institutions.
The first series production LCA is expected to get final operational clearance (FOC) only by the year-end. A senior HAL official said that in the FOC-configuration the aircraft would have additional long-range weapons, an advanced electronic warfare suite and mid-air refuelling capability. The LCA was conceived as a project in 1982, but sanctioned only nine years later.
ADA has also built a Naval version of the Tejas for carrier based operations of the Indian Navy.