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July 29, 2014

IAF LCA squadron awaits first aircraft after fresh delay


More than seven months after it was cleared for being flown by IAF pilots, the entry of the first LCA Tejas in its newly-raised squadron in Bangalore is still awaited as the project has been delayed yet again.

IAF has raised its 45 Squadron at Bangalore for allowing its pilots to fly the aircraft and was supposed to induct the first Tejas Light Combat Aircraft (LCA) in March this year.

But the schedule has now been shifted to coming September, sources said here.

The delay is also understood to have pushed backed the Final Operational Clearance (FOC) of the aircraft from December this year to March 2015.

Flight manuals, the aircraft manual and other basic documents required by pilots to operate the aircraft are also not yet ready, the sources added.

The aircraft received its Initial Operational Clearance ( IOCBSE -0.72 %) last year on December 20 after which Hindustan Aeronautics Ltd (HAL) was supposed to supply two Limited Series Production LCA's to IAF, sources said.

The LCA programme, cleared in August 1983 at a cost of Rs 560 crore to replace the ageing MiG-21s in IAF's combat fleet, has missed several deadlines.

Asked about the delays, a HAL spokesperson said that as far as the production of LCAs was concerned, "HAL is on the right path and there is no delivery issue at this stage."

He said the HAL LCA Project Group has now been upgraded to a full-fledged division to look after production in a systematic way with more investments.

"The new initiative will help enhance the rate of production and reduce production cycle-times by incorporating several advanced defence aerospace technologies," the spokesperson said.

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