Here's a video of Tejas firing an R-73 missile during the recent weapon trials in Goa.
|Seedhi Baat, No Bakwas!|
The countdown for Tejas’ IOC has begun. We are just 10 days away from that historic day, when the world will sit and watch Indian Defense Minister Antony handing over the IOC Certification document(s) to Air Chief Marshal P.V. Naik. The same day the Indian media will hail the contribution of ADA, IAF, NFTC, NAL, DRDO and many more who have contributed to LCA’s success. Shutterbugs will get on to a shoot-at-sight mode. Antony & Co will take short and long-range Media missiles with ease, as they would know what we would ask. What’s the latest on MMRCA? What’s special at Aero India this time? What are the new measures taken for coastal surveillance? When will LCA-Navy fly? What? Why? Will? When? Also, we will get to see HAL showman Nayak and his pyrotechnics to catch the Mantriji’s attention.
The January 10 event will be called as Declaration of IOC, though the IAF top brass wanted to call it as IOC-1. Technically the English on the certificate will read something like this -- Certification for the Release to Services with assured safety and specified performance for IOC. “We haven’t closed the Request for Actions (RFAs) yet and there are some minor issues to be thrashed out. These are not safety critical or flight critical. Whatever concessions ADA-HAL have asked, are given,” says a military source.
As reported in these columns earlier, the Test pilots from ASTE will get to fly Tejas in March\April by which time LSP-7 and LSP-8 would have joined the flight-line. “Even while we roll out the first platform from the SP block (from the initial 20), the IAF pilots would have got the taste of Tejas. Their independent observations are crucial and we are ready for swift actions. As of now, activities relating to certification are over,” says another source.
2011 will be action-packed for ADA and it is now confirmed that the desi plane-makers will officially call it as the Year of Tejas. The year will see the platform expanding its role and envelope with continuous user evaluation. Then the Tejas squadron formation & induction will follow suit. The trainers will get IOC, the LCA-Navy will fly (first quarter) and the design for Tejas MK-II (IAF & Navy) will be ready. The feasibility report for UCAV (Aura) will be finalized this year and funding would flow, subject to approvals. The MCA configuration will also be ready this year. It’s going to be a carnival time for those who make a living out of writing the plane stuff!
For the record, January 10 is the birthday of boxing legend George Foreman. He is revered as the greatest fighters of all time. Tejas couldn’t have asked for a better day to embrace history as it is turning out to be a day for true fighters. And, the Tejas IOC is sure to leave some deep punch marks on all Doubting Thomases and self-appointed defense experts!