Tarmak007 -- A bold blog on Indian defence: X-Mas Special: Tejas' IOC saga -- It's a light, late, yet great story!

Friday, December 24, 2010

X-Mas Special: Tejas' IOC saga -- It's a light, late, yet great story!

It’s now official. India’s Light Combat Aircraft (LCA) Tejas will be given the initial operational clearance (IOC) in January 2011 and not on December 27. However, Tejas’ makers at the Aeronautical Development Agency (ADA) are burning the mid-night oil to get the platform and systems certified through the Centre for Military Airworthiness and Certification (CEMILAC), as per the original December-27 deadline.“As of now, we have fixed it has January 10 and this again is a verbal confirmation and nothing is in yet, in black and white. There are a host of VIPs who are scheduled to attend the event in Bangalore, including Defense Minister A.K. Antony. A final decision will be taken next week,” military sources tell Tarmak007.
While ADA-DRDO is still working out the final template of the event, there are multiple theories floating as to what the event would be finally called. While one set claims that it would be called Release to Service, another school of thought says it will be ‘Dedication of Tejas to the Nation.’ Then there’s a ‘third front’ which firmly believes that it can’t be called IOC as there are a couple of more platforms from the Tejas flight-line to be flown\tested and hence it has to be IOC-1.
Says a top source at ADA: “Release to Service of a product whose standard of preparation is for IOC. We are about to finish what was demanded. When an aircraft reaches the final phase, there will be some minor issues. This is not an Indian phenomenon, but seen world over.”
And, here are some confirmations:
1)   The squadron formation of Tejas will most likely happen only in mid-2011.
2)   The first platform (SP-1) from the initial block of 20 will be ready only by June\July 2011.
3)   LSP-7 and LSP-8 will be ready only in March/April 2011.
4)  Test pilots from IAF’s elite Bangalore-based unit -- Aircraft System and Testing Establishment (ASTE) -- will fly Tejas soon after all IOC formalities are done.
5)   Pilots from IAF will have to undergo the following before flying Tejas: intensive simulation training, studying the flight manuals and grasping the flight reference records. The pilots will also be given familiarization sessions.
“Normally our (IAF) Test pilots will have 2,000-3,000 hours of flying logged against their names. Squadron pilots will not\might not have this kind of expertise (w.r.t. number of hours as against test pilots) and hence pre-flight preparations become very vital. We will start with our evaluation trials with Test pilots (other than NFTC pilots). We have many experienced boys and some were up there flying the MMRCAs during the trials,” a senior IAF official tells Tarmak007.
Insiders confirm that the morale of Team Tejas is sky high with 98 per cent of certification process completed when this blog goes live on X-Mas eve. “By December 27, we will have one more flight of LSP-5 to test some points. We are ready. No issues with the dates spilling over to next year,” says an engineer with CEMILAC.
Interestingly, an IAF official, who attended a meeting of Tejas think-tank on December 21 in New Delhi, says the program as complex as Tejas, will have some last-minute issues. “Having come this far, we are keen to ensure that everything is in place. But, the truth is they (ADA-HAL) have asked for some concessions and we have given them, after discussions,” he said.
So folks! Independent-India’s first home-grown fighter plane is ready.
It’s light! But it’s late! But, isn’t it great?
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