HAL Tejas, also known as the Light Combat Aircraft (LCA) project, has been inducted into the Indian Air Force.
HAL handed over the first two Tejas aircraft to IAF which will make up the Flying Daggers 45, the name of the first squadron of the LCA.
They will be stationed in Bengaluru.
Group Captain M Rangachari will be the first Commanding Officer of the Flying Daggers squadron.
The Flying Daggers squadron will have the SP-1 and SP-2 versions of Tejas, and the squadron is expected to reach full strength by 2018-2020. Six more Tejas fighters are expected to be inducted into the squadron by the end of the current financial year.
Tajas, which is a single-engine multi-role fighter jet, is pegged to be the world’s smallest and lightest supersonic fighter.
Air Chief Marshal Arup Raha, who on May 17 took his maiden flight in Tejas, had termed the aircraft as “good” for induction.
Tejas will feature in combat plan of the IAF next year and will be deployed in forward bases too.
It nearly took over 33 years for Indian Air Force to have an indigenous fighter, but the wait is worth it. According to HAL, the air force has kept changing its requirements, and the sanctions imposed by the US after the Pokhran nuclear test in 1998, made crucial technology out of reach.
In many ways the Tejas is as capable as the French-built Mirage 2000, as it is equipped with a modern Israeli multi-mode radar, the Elta 2032, state-of-the-art Derby air-to-air missiles to attack enemy jets, and modern laser designator and targeting pods to hit ground targets.
Tejas’s flight control system and the ease with which it manoeuvres, has won many accolades.
However, according to critics, Tejas has a lot of imported material in it, including its heart, a GE engine, its radar and weapons Israeli, its ejection seat British.
The upgraded version of Tejas, with Active Electrically Scanned Array Radar, Unified Electronic Warfare Suite, mid-air refuelling capacity and advanced beyond the vision range missiles, will cost between Rs 275 crore and Rs 300 crore.