LCA back at Jamnagar for weapons trials

By SP's Special Correspondent
Photo Credit : ADA

November 11, 2013 : After the Tejas LSP-7 successfully completed several weapons release test points at Jamnagar in July this year, three more limited series airframes (LSP-3, LSP-5 and LSP-8) are now in Jamnagar to bolster the gains made, and notch up more test points necessary for initial operational clearance of the LCA Tejas Mk.1 in December. The three platforms will undertake a slew of weapons release manoeuvers including releasing bombs and firing the Vympel R-73 missile, the only missile so far deployed on the Tejas. The IAF has indicated the team testing Tejas is looking to achieve IOC-2 before Christmas, anywhere between Dec 19-24. However, there remain several test points still to clear, placing a great deal of pressure on the team. On November 6, Defence Minister AK Antony ordered the DRDO to ensure that Initial Operational Clearance and Final Operational Clearance of the LCA were completed on schedule, with both the MoD and IAF making it fully clear that no further extensions will be granted to the programme. In August, Antony told Parliament, "Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) and Aeronautical Development Agency (ADA) have been asked to strictly adhere to the planned schedules for Initial Operational Clearance (IOC-2) by end of 2013 and Final Operational Clearance (FOC) by end of 2014 to ensure timely induction of Light Combat Aircraft (LCA) in the Indian Air Force (IAF). Tejas is likely to be inducted in the Indian Air Force soon after the Initial Operational Clearance (IOC-2)." DRDO chief Avinash Chander has indicated earlier this year that the first three-four full rate production Tejas fighters would roll out of the HAL facility in December this year, the first of 40 ordered by the IAF.