After a delay of over two decades and several cost overruns, indigenously developed Light Combat Aircraft (LCA) Tejas will be inducted in the IAF later this month in Bangalore.
The under development aircraft achieved another significant milestone today with the launching of an infrared seeking air-to-air missile that hit the target with precision and destroyed the target, a DRDO statement said.
The Initial Operational Clearance-II of the aircraft will be done on December 20 at its home-base in Bangalore after which it will be inducted into the IAF by Defence Minister AK Antony, Defence officials said here.
The aircraft will be the LCA Mark 1 and 40 of them will be inducted by the IAF and the DRDO and HAL will continue to make improvements in it and that more powerful and capable version would be inducted later in the force, they said.
The IAF, if everything moves ahead as per the present plans, will have a total of seven squadrons of such aircraft which comes to about 140 aircraft.
The aircraft project was sanctioned in 1983 at a cost of Rs 560 crore, the project will be completed exactly 30 years after it was launched at an approximate overall cost of around Rs 25,000 crore.
Even after its induction into the IAF, the aircraft will undergo several tests in the force and will have to attain the Final Operational Clearance (FOC) for getting ready for full operational deployment.
Meanwhile, the missile firing test demonstrated the required parameters and was conducted off the coast of Goa in Arabian Sea, DRDO said.
DRDO chief Avinash Chander congratulated the missile testing team, saying that with "this launch of missile from Tejas and successfully hitting the target in the first shot, we have demonstrated the total weapon system capability of LCA Tejas".
The LCA has been undergoing weapon release flight tests, for its operational clearance and eliminated an aerial target towed by the pilotless target aircraft Lakshya using its infrared seeker air-to-air missile.
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