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New Tejas Mk1A squadron to be deployed at IAF's forward airbase early next year

NG Missile Vessels

Apr 9, 2023
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The Mk1A variant of LCA Tejas is set to constitute a new squadron and be deployed at the IAF's forward air bases in early 2024, as per a Ministry of defence press release.These revelations were made on August 23 when the Chief of Air Staff (CAS), Air Chief Marshal VR Chaudhari, reviewed the status of the Light Combat Aircraft (LCA) program at Air Headquarters in New Delhi. Also in attendance were senior officials from the Ministry of Defense, Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO), Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL), and Aeronautical Development Agency (ADA).

The CAS initiated the meeting, lauding the LCA as the 'flag bearer' of the Indian Air Force's (IAF) efforts towards indigenisation of its aircraft fleet. He said, "given the nature of this project of national importance, it is required that all stakeholders adopt a collaborative approach towards its success. The programme has been the harbinger of Atmanirbhar Bharat and Make in India initiatives of the nation. More importantly, it is a flag bearer of India's self-reliance in the aerospace sector."

During the review, it was reported that all contracted fighter variants of the LCA Mk 1 had been delivered to the IAF. According to the MoD, representatives from HAL have assured the timely delivery of the contracted twin-seaters of Mk1 within the upcoming months. In addition to the LCA Mk 1, the Chairman & Managing Director of HAL C.B. Ananthakrishnan also assured deliveries of the contracted 83 LCA Mk-1A aircraft in 2021 to commence by February next year.

Based on these assurances, the CAS indicated that the LCA Mk 1A could be inducted into a 'newly established squadron' at one of the IAF's operational bases. Despite project delays discussed during the review, the CAS praised the efforts of all stakeholders and stressed the importance of incorporating lessons learned from the LCA programme into future indigenous design and developmental projects. As per the Ministry, with timely deliveries of the MK1A variant, the LCA programme will see increased deployments at forward bases and participation in international exercises in the future.

LCA Tejas tests ASTRA BVR missile off Goa coast
In another development, Tejas, the Light Combat Aircraft (LCA), specifically the LSP-7, successfully launched the ASTRA indigenous Beyond Visual Range (BVR) air-to-air missile off the coast of Goa on August 23, 2023. The missile release was executed from the aircraft at an altitude of approximately 20,000 ft. The test achieved all its objectives and was executed perfectly.

LCA Tejas, LSP-7, firing the ASTRA BVR missile. | Image: PiB

The test launch was monitored by the Test Director and scientists from the ADA, DRDO, HAL, as well as officials from the Centre for Military Airworthiness and Certification (CEMILAC) and the Directorate General of Aeronautical Quality Assurance (DG-AQA). A Chase Tejas twin-seater aircraft also monitored the test to provide real-time observations.
The ASTRA missile, designed and developed by the Defence Research and Development Laboratory (DRDL), Research Centre Imarat (RCI), and other DRDO laboratories, is meant to engage and destroy highly manoeuvrable supersonic aerial targets. The successful indigenous Astra BVR launch from the homegrown Tejas fighter is a significant stride towards achieving 'Atma Nirbhar Bharat', as stated by the Ministry in its release.

Indian Defence Minister Rajnath Singh, along with the Secretary of the Department of Defence (R&D) and the Chairman of DRDO, was present during the test and commended the agencies involved for the successful missile launch from Tejas-LCA. He remarked, "This launch will significantly enhance the combat capabilities of Tejas and reduce dependency on imported weapons."
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