India’s Light Combat Jet TEJAS – Image: ADA, Rana
Bangalore: Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar’s recent statement in Lok Sabha that the Indian Air Force (IAF) would form a total of eight Light Combat Aircraft (LCA) Tejas Squadrons, in eight years, has inspired Team Tejas at Hindustan Aeronautics Ltd (HAL).
During a recent visit to Tejas Division in Bengaluru, Mathrubhumi witnessed a number of shop-floor activities at various LCA hangars in line with HAL’s renewed series production (SP) plans.
Parrikar informed the Lok Sabha that ‘three to four’ SP Tejas aircraft would be handed over to the IAF this year.
The IAF plans to raise the first Tejas Squadron in Bengaluru and later shift it to Sulur near Coimbatore. IAF personnel have been given training on simulators, ground-handling and other activities ahead of Squadron formation for the last one year in Bangalore.
HAL officials told Mathrubhumi that the production rate of Tejas would pick up from 2016-2017. The proposal for an additional line of manufacturing has been sent to the Ministry of Defence.
“We are told that it is in the final stages of approval with the Ministry of Finance. The rate of production will definitely climb up to the expected 16 numbers per year once we ramp up the facilities,” says an official.
During the visit, a host of activities at the Tejas hangars with the SP-2 almost in the final stages were witnessed. HAL officials were confident of SP-2’s first flight in March.
“The engine is equipped and we are preparing the aircraft for the ground run,” an HAL official said.
Parrikar had told LS that the government is in the process of sanctioning an addition manufacturing facility at HAL so that the IAF got adequate platforms to form the squadrons.
While HAL has been often accused of falling behind production schedules, the officials said that there were ‘genuine issues’ that had halted the project in the past.
“Today all our jigs are full and we have got back on track. We have a clear picture of till SP-8 as we speak to you. Right now we also have to prepare some aircraft for Iron Fist, which is scheduled to be held from March 18. Our detachment will be moving out in the next couple of days,” an official said here on Sunday.
Source: Defense News