Bangalore, Feb 7 (IANS) India’s indigenous Light Combat Aircraft (LCA) Tejas, which obtained its initial clearance to be eligible for flying by the Indian Air Force (IAF) last month after 27 years in the works, needs more improvement, Defence Minister A. K. Antony said Monday.
“The air force wants some more improvements to be incorporated, and I am sure the Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) will address those concerns too,” Antony said, inaugurating an international aerospace seminar ahead of AeroIndia here.
Tejas, which has witnessed a 3,000 percent jump in its development costs, is expected to be inducted into the IAF around December 2012 when the air force would have two fighter squadrons operating the aircraft from Sulur near Coimbatore in Tamil Nadu.
The cost of the aircraft development has shot up from the initial Rs.560 crore allocation in 1983 to Rs.17,269 crore now.
The single-engine, multi-role fighter is powered by the US General Electric’s GE-F-404-IN-20 engines. Apart from the two squadrons (40 aircraft) for which it has placed orders, the IAF is expected to acquire five more squadrons (100 aircraft).
The second lot would be powered by the more powerful GE-F414 engines for which the DRDO placed orders late last year.
Antony said the initial operational clearance for Tejas was a proud moment for DRDO, Hindustan Aeronautics Ltd and other defence institutions associated with the project.
“Tejas is a system of systems and it just cannot be developed in isolation or manufactured without help from others. Tejas has often been criticized for long delays. In developing Tejas, we have tried to make a world-class combat aircraft,” he said.
The minister said that in most parts of the world, technology development preceded product development.
“The desired product is developed, once the right technologies are available and can be put together. However, in the case of LCA Tejas, we attempted both at the same time,” he added.
“The reasons are not far to seek. Due to denial of some necessary technologies, we had to find solutions the hard way. Despite all such odds, the engineers and technologists of DRDO and HAL finally handed over the aircraft to the IAF,” he noted.
Given the technology and time constraints, Antony said, this had been accomplished in a reasonable time-frame, particularly in comparison to other similar class of combat aircraft in the developed world.