New Delhi: Thirty-two years after the project was sanctioned, the first of the indigenously-built Tejas Light Combat Aircraft (LCA) is finally expected to be handed over to the IAF today.
This will be the start of a process of induction of the fighters being built at home under a project which has already estimated to have cost the exchequer over Rs 17,000 crore.
The first LCA is being handed over to the IAF after Initial Operational Clearance-II, which signifies that Tejas is airworthy in different conditions, sources said.
The IOC-I was granted to the aircraft, being built by state-owned Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL), in January 2011.
The Final Operational Clearance (FOC) is expected by the year-end.
“The aircraft is ready and we are trying to hand it over to the IAF tomorrow,” the sources said.
If all goes well, Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar, who is visiting the HAL headquarters today, will hand over the aircraft to the IAF chief Air Marshal Arup Raha.
The first IOC was granted after the aircraft successfully completed its maiden flight on September 30 last year. The sources said 20 aircraft will be built by 2017-2018, to make the first squadron of the aircraft.
The LCA programme was initiated in 1983 to replace the ageing MiG-21s in IAF's combat fleet but has missed several deadlines due to several reasons.
Hindustan Aeronautics Limited's LCA Project Group has has been upgraded to a full-fledged division to look after production in a systematic way with more investments.
HAL has carried out around thousands of sorties of LCA and conducted outstation flight trials at Leh, Jamnagar, Jaisalmer, Uttaralai Gwalior, Pathankot and Goa for cold weather, armament and weapon deliveries, MultiMode Radar (MMR), Radar Warning Receiver (RWR), hot weather and missile firing flight trials, its officials have said.
Tejas has also successfully demonstrated weapon delivery capability during weapon trials at Jamnagar and Jaisalmer, HAL officials said.