India’s state-owned airframer Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL) has handed over the first Light Combat Aircraft (LCA) Tejas twin-seat trainer to the Indian Air Force (IAF) at Bengaluru.
HAL Chairman and Managing Director, C B Ananthakrishnan, stated that the airframer would deliver all the twin-seater aircraft pertaining to Initial Operational Clearance (IOC) and Final Operational Clearance (FOC) contract to IAF by March 31, 2024.
IAF Chief, Air Chief Marshal VR Chaudhari who was present at Bengaluru for the delivery stated that the IAF was moving the case to procure an additional 97 LCA Tejas Mk-1A fighter jets. This will take total Indian orders for the single-engined light fighter to 220 across 40 Tejas Mk-1 and 180 Tejas Mk-1A aircraft.
The IAF presently operates two Squadrons (16 aircraft each) of the Tejas Mk-1s without a dual-seat trainer.
The eight LCA Trainers to be inducted into the IAF will all be in FOC configuration. However, these aircraft are being delivered to the IAF after a significant delay. HAL originally received orders for the series production Tejas Mk-1 aircraft in two tranches, in March 2006 and December 2010, respectively for 20 aircraft each.
The first batch of 20 aircraft (16 single-seat, four twin-seat) were to have been delivered in IOC configuration by 2011. The second batch of 16 single-seat and four twin-seaters were to have been delivered in FOC configuration by 2016.