India's first self-made fighter jet Light Combat Aircraft Tejas or LCA Tejas has received final operational clearance (FOC) for induction into Indian Air Force (IAF) as fully-weaponised fighter jet. FOC certificate was handed over by country's military aviation regulator CEMILAC to Chief of Air Staff Air Marshal Birender Singh Dhanoa at Aero India 2019 - India's biennial air show in Bengaluru.
Significance of FOC
- It is a major milestone for the LCA (Tejas) to get the final operational clearance. It certifies that LCA Tejas is “ready for battle.”
- FOC aircraft of LCA Tejas has several additional capabilities compared to initial operational clearance (IOC) aircraft. The primary one is being more advanced missile capability with significantly enhanced range.
- Some more advanced capabilities of FOC LCA Tejas aircraft Beyond Visual Range Missile capabilities, Air-to-Air Refuelling, Air-to-Ground FOC earmarked advanced weapons and delivery system, and general flight envelope expansion.
Light Combat Aircraft Tejas
- It is world’s smallest and lightest supersonic single-seat multi-role jet fighter. It is powered by single engine and uses fourth generation technologies.
- It was co-developed by Aeronautical Development Agency (ADA) in cooperation with Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL). It will replace India's ageing MiG-21 fighter aircrafts.
- It is made entirely of composite structures and has tailless and compound delta wing design. It is equipped with quadruplex digital fly-by-wire flight control system to ease handling by pilot.
- It incorporates advanced glass cockpit that comprises all round dialed electro-mechanical instruments.
- It is fitted with the coherent pulse-Doppler Multi Mode Radar. It also has satellite-aided Inertial Navigation System and digital computer-based attack system and autopilot mode.
- It has numerous stealth features. It has limited operational reach of little over 400-km, reducing its capability mainly for close air-to ground operations.
- It can fire air to air missiles, carry bombs and precision guided ammunition. Its different kinds of weaponry including R-73 air-to-air missile, indigenous Astra missile, bomb dropping (including laser guided) etc.
- IAF’s squadron The Flying Daggers (Squadron No 45) is dedicated for LCA Tejas and has formally commenced its operations from Sulur Air Force Station in Tamil Nadu from June 2018.