Thirty—two years after the project was sanctioned, the first indigenously—built Tejas Light Combat Aircraft (LCA) was handed over by Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar to the IAF on Saturday, a red letter day for the Indian defence and aerospace sector.
The handover signals the start of a process of induction of the fighters being built at home under a project which has already cost the exchequer nearly Rs. 8,000 crore.
The aircraft that has been handed over has got Initial Operational Clearance—II, which signifies that Tejas is airworthy in different conditions, sources said. The Final Operational Clearance (FOC) is expected by the year—end.
This version of the aircraft lacks the latest electronic warfare suite, which was integrated into one of the LCAs two weeks ago, mid—air refuelling and long—range missiles capabilities, among other things that the FOC—configuration aircraft will have.
The IOC—I was granted to the aircraft, being built by state—owned Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL), in January 2011.