By Raju Vernekar
Mumbai, July 1:
The indigenous Light Combat Aircraft (LCA), the multi-role aircraft-”Tejas”, designed to undertake the Air Defence, Maritime Reconnaissance and Strike roles, completed seven years of service in Indian Air Force (IAF) on Saturday.
The aircraft named “Tejas” in 2003, offers carefree handling and enhanced manoeuvrability. Its capability is further enhanced with its Multi-Mode Airborne radar, Helmet Mounted Display, Self-protection suite and Laser Designation Pod.
The aircraft was inducted into No 45 Squadron, the “Flying Daggers”, for the first time. . Over the years, the squadron progressed from Vampires to Gnats and then onto the “MiG-21 Bis”, before being equipped with its current steed. Each of the aircraft flown by the Flying Daggers has been manufactured in India – either under license production or having been designed and developed in India. In May 2020, No 18 Squadron became the second Indian air Force (IAF) unit to operate the “Tejas” an official statement read.
India’s indigenous aerospace capabilities have been brought to the fore by the IAF by displaying the aircraft at various international events, including LIMA-2019 at Malaysia, Dubai Air Show-2021, Sri Lanka Air Force anniversary celebrations in 2021, Singapore Air Show- 2022 and Aero India Shows from 2017 to 2023.
While it participated in exercises with foreign air forces domestically, Ex-Desert Flag in the United Arab Emirates in March 2023 was the “Tejas”s ‘ maiden exercise on foreign soil.
The confidence that the IAF reposes in the “Tejas” is proved by its order for 83 LCA Mk-1A which will have updated avionics, as well as an Active Electronically Steered Radar, updated Electronic Warfare suite and a Beyond Visual Range missile capability. The new variant will be capable of firing a plethora of weapons from increased stand-off ranges. Most of these weapons will be of indigenous origin. The LCA MK-1A is expected to see a substantial increase in the overall indigenous content of the aircraft. Contracted deliveries of the aircraft are expected to commence in February 2024. In the years to come, the LCA and its future variants will form the mainstay of the Indian Air Force.