Air Force To Deploy First LCA Tejas Squadron in Tamil Nadu By 2010
The first squadron of the indigenously developed Light Combat Aircraft (LCA) named Tejas will be deployed down south in Tamil Nadu, when the first batch of the 20 fighter aircrafts are expected to be inducted by the Indian Air Force (IAF) in 2009-2010.
The IAF is zeroing on three places Thanjavur , Sulur and Tiruchirapalli for its possible deployment highlighting the new strategic concerns in Indian establishment 's regarding country's security, particularly with the growing importance of Indian Ocean region and the maritime security.
Sources in IAF said that Tiruchirapalli could be the place for possible deployment of Tejas, which are expected to replace the MIG-21 aircraft, which have been phased out.
However, the IAF also remained sceptical that the much delayed LCA will stick to its renewed schedule, as Aeronautical Development Agency (ADA)- an autonomous society under the Department of Defence Research and Development (DRDO) working on the LCA project- has been failing to meet the deadline for years.
Last month, Chief of the Southern Air Command, Air Marshal Y.R. Rane had publicly told of moving more 'combat assets' to south India.
Air Marshal Rane had then hinted at developing air base in Thanjavur for hosting long-range multirole fighter aircraft, such as Sukhoi-30.
The LCA project, which was initiated in 1983, has failed to meet its deadline three times, and the first test flight was conducted as late as 2001.
The untimely delay and the persisting 'certain complexities' as stated by the DRDO in Tejas, have raised doubts in the IAF, which placed the orders for only 20 aircrafts instead of 220 as envisaged by the ADA.
The initial operation clearance (IOC) for the LCA, expected to be conducted next year, will be keenly watched by everyone as the fate of the LCA's induction into the IAF and subsequently into Indian Navy will depend on this.
The single seater-single engine supersonic light-weight multi-role combat aircraft will be powered by US F404-GE-IN20 engine and advanced electronically scanned phased-array (AESA) radar of Russia.
The IOC followed by full operation clearance will put to test any glitches in aircraft's aerodynamic, aero-mechanical, combustion and structural Integrity, apart from its avionics software.