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Wednesday, July 6, 2016

Tejas fighters in large numbers matter

The critics of home-grown Light Combat Aircraft (LCA) Tejas might be struggling to chart a new flight path for their future assault. With the euphoria over the induction of the first Tejas Squadron continuing, some of the fieriest critics have already switched sides. After all, success breeds success.
After waiting in the wing for over 15 years since its first flight, the Indian Air Force (IAF) finally inducted two Tejas fighters on July 1, signalling the beginning of a new era in country’s military aviation. The No. 45 Squadron of the IAF (Flying Daggers) would be based in Bengaluru for the next two years, fine-tuning all aspects of flying, ground-handling and repair of a new fighter plane.
Having chased Tejas for nearly a quarter of century as a defence writer, it was a great moment of pride to see Group Captain Rangachari taking the bird for the first official sortie in IAF colours. The long wait has finally ended and Tejas has flown into IAF hangars. The onus now completely shifts to Hindustan Aeronautics Ltd (HAL) to produce it in large numbers and Aeronautical Development Agency (ADA) to fasten the Final Operational Clearance (FOC) process. Those who saw ADA-HAL relationship from close quarters would agree that both should now look at Tejas through the eyes of IAF. This shift in focus and thought process would propel the project ahead.
For the project from here on, it’s all about numbers. As per the current plan, the next 18 production variants should be delivered to IAF by 2018 to form the full squadron. Many firmly believe that unless HAL gets more firm orders, the private sector wouldn’t join hands. The HAL says that by ramping up its infrastructure, production rate would increase and they would deliver 120 aircraft by 2025.
The above is my Comment piece that appeared in Deccan Herald Edit Page,
dated 05 July 2016. Read the full report here: http://bit.ly/29rLzCI

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