New Delhi: IAF chief Air Chief Marshal Arup Raha will tomorrow take his maiden flight in India’s indigenous light combat aircraft, Tejas, and review the development so far.
Marshal Raha will also inaugurate the LCA paint hangar in Bengaluru and visit the production line of the aircraft. The Indian Air Force (IAF) has given an order of 120 Tejas, with 100 of them being an upgraded version.
He will fly a sortie in a Tejas trainer aircraft which is a two seater, defence sources said. He will also visit the hangar where the Mirage 2000 is being upgraded.
Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL), manufacturer of Tejas, is likely to hand over the fourth aircraft to IAF by June end. The four aircraft will make up for the first squadron of IAF which will be used for training and familarisation.
Rather than waiting for LAC Mk II, IAF had decided to go in with an upgraded version of the existing Tejas with over 40 modifications.
IAF currently plans to acquire 120 Tejas aircraft, with 100 of these having major modifications. The force wants Active Electrically Scanned Array (AESA) Radar, Unified Electronic Warfare (EW) Suite, mid-air refueling capacity and beyond the vision range missiles.
As per the production plan, six aircraft will be made this year (2015-16) and HAL will subsequently scale it up to eight and 16 aircraft per year.
Upgraded version of Tejas will cost between Rs. 275 crore and Rs. 300 crore. Tejas, which was several years in the making, has now caught the attention of foreign buyers, with Sri Lanka and Egypt evincing interest in the fighter jet.
Sri Lanka had recently rejected Pakistan’s JF-17 aircraft built with Chinese help, while Egypt had last year signed a contract for 24 French-made Rafale fighter jets. The two countries are interested in the current version of Tejas and not the upgraded one which will be rolled out later.