BENGALURU: Some 35 years after it was conceived and 25 years after the project was greenlighted, light combat aircraft received fulsome praise — and approval — from the chief that it was ‘combat ready’. With this, Tejas officially secured the final operational clearance.

Asked if Tejas was combat ready, Air Chief Marshal BS Dhanoa said: “Didn’t you see them perform at Vayu Shakti? You saw how much the aircraft could fly and the number of sorties it could generate during Gagan Shakti. During Vayu Shakti (this year), we showed you how accurately this aircraft could dispense weapons on the target. That’s the proof.”

‘Fighter plane must behave like a fighter’

The IAF has received the release-to-service certificate — which means the jet got the final operational clearance (FOC) — from the Defence Research and Development Organisation, whose lab Aeronautical Development Agency designed the aircraft. Conceived in 1983 and sanctioned in 1993, the jet is being produced by defence PSU Hindustan Aeronautics Ltd.

The final clearance and release to service came close on the heels of the final DAL (Drawing Applicability Lists) of Tejas was released to HAL on December 31. This meant HAL could go ahead with the production of the aircraft in FOC configuration. Dhanoa said it was a “milestone today we have got the FOC of the LCA MK 1. A fighter plane must behave like a fighter — and it did well in both air-to-air and air-to-ground modes.” The IAF has placed orders for 40 Tejas aircraft so far, of which HAL has rolled out 14 and IAF has accepted 10.


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