Flight trials begin for Tejas MK-1A: HAL

HAL Tejas

The maiden flight trials of the LCA Tejas MK-1A (Light Combat Aircraft Mark-1A) have been started from the first week of May, said sources in the Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL) associated with the project. LCA Mk-1A is an upgraded version of the LCA Mk-1. LCA Mk-1 reached Full Operational Capability (FOC) in 2020.

The LCA Tejas is a fly-by-wire (FBW) fighter with the ability to refuel in the air. It has a glass cockpit and a satellite-assisted inertial navigation system, making it a fourth-generation fighter.

HAL will try to deliver all 10 Light Combat Aircraft (LCA) Tejas aircraft by this year.

It can transport air-to-ground bombs and attack systems that can be used to strike targets on land or at sea. It’s a supersonic combat jet with a 50,000-foot service ceiling. Its wingspan is 8.20 meters, its length is 13.20 meters, and its height is 4.40 meters.

HAL had earlier agreed to pay USD 716 million to GE Aviation for 99 F404 aircraft engines and related services to power the indigenous Tejas LCA Mk-1A. Furthermore, it is now developing its indigenous engine, which will be used to power both Tejas and AMCA aircraft.

“We will be attempting at least 6-8 aircraft (LCA) this year. All 10 aircraft are already ready, there are some systems to be delivered from Israel. If that happens in time, we can deliver all 10. “By June this year we should start flying the LCA MK-1A configuration. Once flying starts, we have about 20 to 24 months of testing. Once that is done, we will be ready for deliveries as expected.”

R. Madhavan, Chief Managing Director, HAL.

Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL) expects to deliver all Light Combat Aircraft (LCA) Tejas in the Final Operational Clearance (FOC) variant to the Indian Air Force (IAF) in 2022 while the LCA MK-1A, with specific enhancements, will take flight by the middle of this year, said R. Madhavan, Chief Managing Director, HAL.

A larger aircraft LCA MK-2 to roll out by year-end or early 2023, says HAL MD.

Last February the Defence Ministry signed a ₹48,000 crore deal with HAL to supply 83 LCA MK-1A to the IAF. HAL will be delivering the first three aircraft in 2024 and 16 aircraft per year for the subsequent five years, the Defence Ministry had stated earlier.

We will start manufacturing activities parallel with the testing, Mr. Madhavan said on the LCA MK-1A schedule. With COVID-19 cases surging again, there could be some delays if the work schedule is disrupted.

To ramp up production, HAL has already set up two additional assembly lines. Stating that all three LCA assembly lines are operational now, Mr. Madhavan said the back end of the lines is what they are finishing now including the supply of sub-assemblies by vendors.

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