With three limited series production airframes of the LCA Tejas now ripping it up in the skies over the IAF’s South-Western Air Command ranges in Gujarat, there’s hope that the residual initial operational clearance milestone (designated IOC-2) will be achieved before Christmas. The three aircraft will be performing all manner of weapons release, including firing the Vympel R-73 again. The aircraft will also tick off test points in nightflying, electronic warfare and sensor-weapon integration. My sources tell me the Tejas team is looking to declare IOC-2 in a time window between Dec 19-24. Here’s hoping it happens.
On November 6, Defence Minister AK Antony gave the DRDO an earful, making it amply clear that the team would get no further extensions on time and cost. And remember, after IOC-2, the IAF gets to fly the Tejas as part of routine squadron sorties. Also in the pipeline, the possible roll-out of four series production LCAs from HAL’s Bangalore facility next month. Let’s hope that lands on time too.
Lots on the Tejas over the next few weeks.