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As Tejas begins flying near Pakistan border, IAF & HAL join hands to boost LCA availability

About half-a-dozen Tejas aircraft are doing stints at various bases in the western sector, including at two locations that will host Tejas Mk 1A squadrons in the future.

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New Delhi: The Indian Air Force (IAF) and the state-run Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL) are working together to ensure a high “availability ratio” for the indigenous Light Combat Aircraft (LCA) Tejas, which is doing flying stints nears the border with Pakistan.

Availability ratio is the average number of aircraft that are available for flying at any point in time, taking into account servicing and spare parts issues.

In view of the Chinese aggression in Ladakh, the IAF has deployed its assets all along the borders with both China and Pakistan — which are allies to each other — since India is preparing for a possible collusive threat from them.

Accordingly, about half-a-dozen Tejas aircraft, all of the Initial Operational Clearance (IOC) standard, have been doing stints at various bases in the western sector, including at two locations that will host Tejas Mk 1A squadrons in the future.

However, these stints of the aircraft, which are otherwise based in Sulur, Tamil Nadu, are more for training purpose, although sources said they can be deployed for operations if the need arises.   

“Technically, they have been operationally deployed amid rising tensions with China in Ladakh, but the flying is primarily for pilots to get used to border dynamics,” said a source, adding that the aircraft have been doing the stints since June.

Even though the aircraft are IOC variants, the sources added, “they do carry limited air-to-air missile and bombing capabilities”.

The initial lot of Tejas, they said, is meant more for close-in protection of India’s own bases rather than actual combat in enemy territory.


Also Read: IAF to buy 83 more Tejas fighters from HAL instead of foreign jets, CDS Rawat says


First deployed operationally after Balakot strike

The first time the Tejas went in for “operational deployment” was after the Balakot strikes against a Jaish-e-Mohammed training camp in Pakistan last year.

At the time, the IAF had deployed nine Tejas aircraft at the Jaisalmer base but had to eventually make do with two because of low availability, sources said. 

“Out of the nine aircraft, only two were available the last time,” a source added.

Both HAL and IAF are working together to ensure higher availability, the sources said.

The IAF is currently in the process of inducting Final Operational Clearance (FOC) aircraft, which are more advanced than the IOC ones. “FOC aircraft imbibe a lot of manufacturing improvements, which were based on the operational feedback of LCA IOC fleet with IAF,” the HAL had said in March this year.

Besides their capability to carry weapons, including Beyond Visual Range (BVR) ones, another major difference between IOC and FOC variants is fuel capacity.

The IOC Tejas currently carries two fixed tanks of 1,200- and 800-litre capacity. The FOC variants, meanwhile, not only get larger tanks but also mid-air refuelling capability.

The IAF is expected to finalise the deal for 83 Mark1A aircraft by the end of this year.


Also Read: Behind final clearance for Tejas, 10 concessions given to fighter jet


 

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19 COMMENTS

  1. Why not to change the mind set of people , for peace & prosperity . Every country must be prepared , for its survival & existence. But along side your mil power , must improve your economy ; which needs more focused , peaceful approach .

  2. There is much drum beating about Rafaels induction in IAF but who will fly them…abinndan and his colleagues…who are already paranoid of their last episode…. fantastic tea will be ready if they so desire.
    PLA is glorious having already lynched about three dozen endians at Ladakh for their deeds. endia has issues with all her neighbours Bangladesh China Nepal Pakistan and even Bhutan. endia is the epicentre of all evils in the region including state sponsred terrorism. endia should shun off her expansionist designs and learn to live in peace with her neighbours otherwise…

    • Lol, 1st of all paki, your country is a country of SAITANS and EVIL doers….We can’t leave in peace with evil doers…
      2nd, Paki speaking of state sponsored terrorism is laughable since it is an epicenter of jihadi gangs, be it Al-Qaida, Hijabul, ISIS, or even TALIBAN which was created by Pakistan..
      3rd, You are ready with tea for your enemies??😂😂😂 why so much fear?? We are not that brutal…Don’t worry, we won’t kill u, only make u surrender like 1971, where 93000 paki soldiers surrender shamelessly…We beat the shit out of China and killed their 43 soldiers, they are not even disclosing their casualties which is shame….
      4th, India doesn’t hv any bad relationships with Bhutan, Srilanka and even Bangladesh…some Islamists in Bangladesh, communists in China, and terror factory Pakistan who is china’s official R.A.N.D.I hv problems with India which we don’t care….
      Finally, Pakistan hv tried their luck 4 times against India and every time Pakistani army ran with their tell between their legs….You want to try again?? Bribg it on

  3. With the largest scientific pool it’s a shame that we can’t build our own engines. It’s a educational failure of not absorbing engineers into R&D . All go For software engineering regardless of stream they study. Colossal failure. At least now focus on using this talent pool

  4. Pakistan in fact is too much afraid of Tejas and India’s capacity to fight at both fronts.Tejas will prove death for them.Rafale has already made tension to China.

  5. Why our people’s are comparing LCA with other Medium Multi role aircrafts. LCA is the lightest aircraft in the world.
    Other foreign country’s are looking for this aircraft in future we will be having very good demand for LCA, pls encourage our indigenous product by that we can build strongest defence system and we have to keep big steps in exporting defence equipment’s.

    • ‘Other foreign country’s are looking for this aircraft in future we will be having very good demand for LCA’

      Like Indian made cars and gomutra have great demand abroad.

      You are the optimistic Hindu out of touch with reality.

  6. They maintaince issue of the engines have to be sorted out. Till date no one has been trained on GE 404 engines & depend totally on GE for support. This speaks very poorly of all stake holders especially when we call LCA an indegenised effort. Contracts with foreign vendors have to be carefully vetted else situation will become complicated during operational regime.
    However it is heartening to note our own fighters are guarding the sky. To ensure a trouble free operations on future IAF has to be actively involved in HALs decision making process as the tep management of HAL is notorious in its decision making policies which causes enormous delays resulting in both time & cost overruns.

  7. Until a better version of the Tejas is available the IAF will have no option but to aquire more of the Rafael’s and opt for the much advanced Russian sukhoi-57 to have an edge over our so friendly neighbors.

  8. Two out of nine being available during FEB 2019 doesn’t look like a good figure at all. Will IAF really manage with 83 Mk 1 A Tejas ? Anyhow we must appreciate the IAF for frankly letting us know the figure instead of exaggerating. Let’s hope the availability is far better by now.

  9. Having said that, that’s a Navy version of HAL Tejas in the pic, under development far away from procurement. A pic of Air Force’s Tejas would had been better.

  10. Tejas 1A is a good first attempt at building our own jets. But bureaucratic red tape pushed the induction behind by a decade. Biggest contribution to this delay goes to the HAL their employee unions.

    The times right for privatisation of the ailing PSU. Corporates value efficiency & nothing works better to encourage innovation, than some tough competition..

  11. Tejas fighter aircraft will not be able to fight with Pak and China and win future war for India . First this govt should give the pending dues of 1971 war hero Flying Officer K.P Muralidharan MIA. We need such pilots and they should honoured. We don’t need this govt of not giving his Maha Vir Chakra whom the IAF bileatedly and repeatly recommended this award .Final answer from the govt Time Bar For Bravery.What a absurd and shame to our country. This is the way to treat a brave and war hero for sacrificing his life for his country.

  12. Poetic License is 1 thing but blatant twisting of facts is in bad taste. And KJo has shown a lot of bad taste and poor judgement in recent times. It is bad enough when you show Govt. Agencies in poor light as it undermines morale of the honest and hard working officers, it is more so when you undermine the Defense Services. I don’t say that the Armed Forces are a Holy Cow and beyond reproach, but at least base your depiction on facts, instead of cocaine induced dreams !!

  13. So basically we are buying 9 aircraft for 2 operational ones. Maybe the pakis should buy more tea now. More IAF will drop by

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