Express News Service
Bangalore: The Indian Air Force's (IAF) long and frustrating wait to own the home-grown combat fighter might be finally over with the Limited Series Production (LSP-8) version of Tejas completing two crucial engine ground runs (EGR) successfully. An elated Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL) chairman R K Tyagi told Express on Wednesday that his boys are working overtime to ensure that the LSP-8 hits the skies soon.
Battered by the media, bruised by IAF and butchered by desi aerospace gurus for unprecedented time and cost overruns, Team Tejas had to face the music from all quarters, for over a decade. Tyagi, who took over the reins of HAL last year, said that LSP-8 would make its maiden flight some time in February. “The aircraft is almost akin to the series production (SP) standard aircraft. We have upgraded the systems to incorporate the feedback from the ground/flight evaluation teams, who dealt with earlier LSP variants,” Tyagi said. It will be the 13th aircraft from the Tejas project flight-line to take to the skies, and along with LSP-7, the IAF pilots should soon begin their much-awaited user evaluation trials.
Two preliminary EGRs of LSP-8 have been completed so far for the first time by HAL personnel and certified by National Flight Test Centre. The aircraft is currently undergoing final system checks, to be followed by further inspections by certifying agencies. “Then we will have final ground runs, leading to low speed taxi trials (LSTT), high speed taxi trials (HSTT) and the actual first flight,” Tyagi said. “My team is really jubilant and we would soon commence the work on series production,” Tyagi added.
He said with most of the aircraft system performance reaching almost desired level of expectation, Team Tejas in HAL would now be able to concentrate on stabilizing the production line. “The production line of Tejas at HAL has been moved to a new premises with a built-up area of around 28,000 sqm of Hangars, engineering and administrative blocks. Upgrade and augmentation of production tooling, which is expected to be 2.5 times of prototype requirements, is underway to enhance the rate of production and to expedite delivery of the aircraft,” Tyagi said. HAL promises to add more teeth to IAF by delivering 2 Squadrons of Tejas in the next five years.