India's light combat aircraft (LCA) Tejas is readying itself for advanced drop tank trials. Currently completing flight trials in the post-initial operational clearance (IOC) phase, military sources tell Tarmak007 that the Tejas had begun drop-tank tests at DRDO's new Aeronautical Test Range (ATR) at Challakere, in Chitradurga of Karnataka, 100 miles north-west of Bangalore.
"An LSP-3 jettisoned drop tank at 0.7 Mach speed last week and the separation was successful. LSP-5 monitored the release. We are scheduled for more trials," military sources confirm to Tarmak007.
The ATR became operational on December 15, 2011, when Tejas conducted air-to-ground-trials. Hectic activities were seen at HAL's military airport in the last few days confirming the preparations.
When asked whether the trials are high-speed in nature, the source said: "Need not be. The thrust is not on speed. It can be a combination of speed and the status of the tank. We are scheduled for another test at 0.7 Mach speed (third one) with different fuel state. The key is clearing the corner points, opening-up the envelope and achieving most critical test points towards full clearance."
(More details later)