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LCA Tejas FOC completes maiden flight, IAF closer to combat-ready indigenous fighter

Indian Air Force (IAF) is a step closer to getting a fully combat-ready indigenous supersonic fighter with the Light Combat Aircraft Tejas in Final Operational Clearance-standard (SP-21) making its first successful test flight in Bengaluru on Tuesday (March 17, 2020). Tejas FOC(SP-21), piloted by former Indian Air Force (IAF) Air Commodore and Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL) Chief Test Flying (Fixed Wing) KA Muthana (retired), was in the air for 40 minutes.

LCA Tejas FOC completes maiden flight, IAF closer to combat-ready indigenous fighter

Indian Air Force (IAF) is a step closer to getting a fully combat-ready indigenous supersonic fighter with the Light Combat Aircraft Tejas in Final Operational Clearance-standard (SP-21) making its first successful test flight in Bengaluru on Tuesday (March 17, 2020). Tejas FOC(SP-21), piloted by former Indian Air Force (IAF) Air Commodore and Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL) Chief Test Flying (Fixed Wing) KA Muthana (retired), was in the air for 40 minutes.

The supersonic jet fighter aircraft, which an earlier version of which is already in service with the IAF, took-off from HAL Airport in Bengaluru at 12:30 pm and flew over India's tech capital before making a perfect landing. The HAL plans to deliver 16 Tejas FOC fighter by the end of April 2021.

HAL Chairman and Managing Director R Madhavan credited the entire LCA Tejas team for the successful maiden flight of the fighter jet in a press release by the defense PSU major. Apart from HAL, the other organisations involved in the development of LCA Tejas are Directorate General of Aeronautical Quality Assurance (DGAQA), Centre for Military Airworthiness and Certification (CEMILAC), IAF and Aeronautical Development Agency (ADA).

"HAL achieved the momentous feat within a record time of 12 months after release of Drawing Applicability List (DAL) and SOP by CEMILAC. This would pave way for production of remaining 15 fighters from the FOC block which are planned to be delivered during the next financial year. The FOC aircraft are equipped with advanced features such as Air-to-Air refueling, Beyond Visual Range (BVR) missile system, etc. It imbibes a lot of manufacturing improvements which were based on the operational feedback of LCA IOC fleet with IAF," said the press release.

Minister of State, Defence, Shripad Naik had on February 5, 2020, stated in the Lok Sabha that IAF will induct 20 Tejas FOC jets with a break-up of 16 fighters and 4 twin-seater trainers. IAF already has 16 Tejas in its 45 Squadron (Flying Daggers) at Sulur Air Force Station in Tamil Nadu.

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