Finally, after almost 30 years since it was conceptualised, the HAL Tejas will officially become a squadron in the Indian Air Force on July 1. According to India Today
, the Light Combat Aircraft (LCA) will be commissioned into service in Bengaluru.
There is, however, a problem. The first Tejas squadron will be composed of just two fighters instead of the standard 17-18.
One or two trainers will also be inducted. The report says that while the IAF wants HAL to produce 16 aircraft per year, the current capacity is of just eight. Delay in the manufacture of the indigenously made fighter and the IAF’s weakening fleet has perhaps forced the latter to go ahead with the squadron decision.
Citing a source, India Today reports that the IAF will not use the commissioned Tejas for combat as of now. The simple reason is that the fighter is not fully ready for combat.
The cockpit of an LCA Tejas. The fighter is equipped with some modern avionics. PhotoBucket
Quoting HAL Chairman and Managing Director T Suvarna Raju, the report says that HAL wants the design to be frozen to enable it to start serial production but Aeronautical Development Agency (ADA), the designer of the plane, and the IAF claimed that the design is no more an issue.
In all, the fighter is not complete. The two Tejas are part of 20 which have got the Initial Operational Clearance but not Final Operational Clearance, which is most likely to come by in March 2017.
The FOC is getting delayed because the Tejas still needs Air-to- Air Refuelling capability and tests such as those of Beyond-Visual-Range Air-to-Air Missile (BVRAAM) are still to be conducted. IAF has been waiting long for the LCA Tejas to replace its ageing MiG-21 and MiG-27 fighters. The IAF is currently not in a position to fight on two fronts. It needs at least 42 squadrons but has only 35. (25 if we the report on defence by Parliamentary Standing Committee.)