The much-delayed Light Combat Aircraft (LCA) programme will get an additional funding of Rs 8,000 crore. Tejas, India’s effort at building an indigenous trainer — in the making since 1983 — will obtain initial operational clearance by the year-end. The government had spent Rs 4,800 crore on the LCA programme till 2009-end. There has been all-round scepticism of the project over its inordinate delay. Experts have questioned the wisdom of continuing it, and dubbed it a total failure. But defence minister AK Antony on Tuesday strongly defended the LCA programme: “Today I can assure you with confidence... I can declare at last LCA is going to be a reality.’’ Dismissing all criticism about the project taking close to three decades, he said that all agencies involved strongly believed in LCA. Maintaining that LCA had to undergo rigorous trials before it became a complete fighting machine, Antony said the development of a new aircraft was not easy; the gestation period is very long. “Don’t expect miracles. Our expectation is to give a momentum for indigenisation.” Admitting that Tejas still has a long way to go, he expressed confidence it will get final operational clearance by end of 2012. The IAF has already ordered 20 LCAs and expressed interest in ordering another 20 aircraft. Antony said the government is in talks with parties abroad for the development of an engine for Tejas. A Tejas two-seater trainer and a Limited Series Production (LSP) aircraft was displayed on Tuesday. The minister was in the city for the inauguration of System Test and Integration Rig (STIR) Complex at Centre for Air-Borne Systems (CABS), inauguration of Electronic Warfare and Avionics Strategic Business Unit Integration Infrastructure Facility, and handing over of BEL’s fire control system Lynx U1 to the Indian Navy.
LCA programme launched in 1983 .Envisaged as India’s multirole supersonic aircraft Tejas has undergone hotweather trials at Nagpur, cold-weather trials at Leh, and sea trials at Arakkonam and Goa .
Two-seat tandem configuration Air Force trainer derived from the fighter version.
The makers of Tejas see great potential for it in the world market LCA.
Navy programme was sanctioned in March 2003