Soaring High: LCA Mk1A Successfully Completes Inaugural Flight

Defence Industry

Bengaluru: Soaring into the sky, the first Aircraft LA5033 of the indigenous Light Combat Aircraft ‘Tejas’ Mk1A Aircraft series successfully completed its inaugural flight at the state-owned Hindustan Aeronautics Limited’s facility in Bengaluru.

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Lasting 18 minutes, the successful sortie marks a significant milestone in HAL’s journey. The early induction of the Tejas Mk1A into the Indian Air Force (IAF) is anticipated, facilitated by the establishment of three production lines at HAL.

CB Ananthakrishnan, CMD, HAL said, “HAL achieved this significant production milestone with concurrent design and development amid major supply chain challenges in the global geo-political environment subsequent to the contract signature in February 2021.”

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The aircraft was piloted by Chief Test Pilot Gp Capt KK Venugopal (Retd) and signifies a leap forward in India’s aviation capabilities. Equipped with advanced electronic radar, warfare, communication systems, enhanced combat capability, and improved maintenance features, the Tejas Mk1A promises to bolster the country’s defence capabilities.

Highlighting the collaborative efforts of various stakeholders in realising this achievement , the successful flight underscores India’s prowess in indigenous defence manufacturing. As the Tejas Mk1A programme progresses, it represents a significant step towards enhancing India’s self-reliance in defence production and strengthening its defence preparedness.

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Ananthakrishnan, CMD of HAL, expressed his gratitude to various stakeholders, including the Ministry of Defence, Indian Air Force, DRDO/ADA, CEMILAC, DGAQA, and MSMEs, whose contributions were instrumental in the success of the programme.

With an advanced electronic radar, warfare, communication systems, smart multi-function displays (SMFD), advanced self-protection jammer, electronic warfare suite, additional combat capability and improved maintenance features, the Tejas Mk1A will also have an indigenous Digital Fly by Wire Flight Control Computer (DFCC), developed by the Aeronautical Development Establishment (ADE) in Bengaluru.

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Planned to be deployed at Nal air base in Rajasthan’s Bikaner near the Pakistan border, the first squadron of the Tejas Mk1A fighter aircraft can take care of the western adversary. The Indian Air Force (IAF) has got clearance to buy a total of 180 of these jets and is looking to get the first aircraft soon. The IAF already had 40 LCAs of the original IOC (initial operational clearance) and FOC (final operational clearance) version.  And with this variant in the long run, it is expected that the strength of the IAF fighters will go up to 220 LCA Mark 1As. This means that IAF will have almost 10 squadrons of the indigenous fighter jets.

An ideal fit to fill in, given the phasing out of the MiG 21 and MiG 27, these light combat jets are designed, developed and manufactured indigenously and have more than 65 percent of indigenous components. In February 2021, the defence ministry sealed a Rs 48,000-crore deal with HAL for the procurement of 83 Tejas Mark 1A jets for the IAF.

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