An im­proved Te­jas gets ini­tial oper­a­tional clear­ance

SP's MAI - - FRONT PAGE - [ By R. Chan­drakanth ]

In a sig­nif­i­cant mile­stone in In­dia’s aero­space realm, the light com­bat air­craft (LCA) Te­jas, to­day re­ceived the ini­tial oper­a­tional clear­ance (IOC II), bring­ing it closer to the air­craft’s in­duc­tion into the In­dian Air Force (IAF). The De­fence Min­is­ter, A.K. Antony handed over the ‘Re­lease to Ser­vice Cer­tifi­cate’ of the indige­nous su­per­sonic com­bat air­craft to the Chief of Air Staff, Air Chief Mar­shal, N.A.K. Browne, at the Hin­dus­tan Aero­nau­tics Lim­ited (HAL) air­port in Ben­galuru.

Marked by se­vere de­lays, the LCA’s jour­ney is a story of de­ter­mined ef­forts of the In­dian aero­space com­mu­nity to make a fighter air­craft of in­ter­na­tional stan­dards.

Speak­ing on the oc­ca­sion, the De­fence Min­is­ter said dur­ing the last three years, the ca­pa­bil­i­ties of the air­craft have been im­proved sig­nif­i­cantly. “In recog­ni­tion of the en­hanced ca­pa­bil­i­ties, IAF has de­cided to grant the air­craft a higher sta­tus, namely, the ini­tial oper­a­tional clear­ance for in­duc­tion into the ser­vice.”

Antony con­fessed that he had his share of anx­i­eties re­gard­ing the fu­ture of LCA when in 2006 he took charge as the De­fence Min­is­ter and said, “To­day we are putting be­hind the mo­ments of self– doubt, frus­tra­tions and set­backs which we as a na­tion have gone through in the last 30 years.”

“The im­prove­ments to the air­craft have en­hanced the flight en­ve­lope of the air­craft and also weapon de­liv­ery ca­pa­bil­ity of the air­craft. The per­for­mance at Iron Fist, Jaisalmer and the re­cent mis­sile fir­ing at Goa are ex­am­ples of such im­prove­ments. The re­li­a­bil­ity of the air­craft and ser­vice­abil­ity has also been en­hanced. The num­ber of flights near­ing 500 within this year pro­vides an in­di­ca­tion of this. Op­er­at­ing at IAF bases namely, Jam­na­gar, Jaisalmer, Ut­tar­lai, Gwalior, Goa, Leh, Pathankot demon­strate the air­craft ca­pa­bil­ity to op­er­ate from Air Force bases. There have also been oc­ca­sions when the same air­craft has flown thrice on the same day, in­di­cat­ing the oper­a­tional re­li­a­bil­ity of this home-bred fighter air­craft,” he said.

Mil­i­tary avi­a­tion has got a ma­jor boost with the ap­proval of sev­eral new pro­grammes, in­clud­ing MkII vari­ants of Navy and Air Force; ad­vanced medium com­bat air­craft; un­manned air sys­tems; fifth-gen­er­a­tion fighter air­craft (FGFA) and medium trans­port air­craft (MTA), to name a few. Antony called upon both the pub­lic and pri­vate sec­tor to work in tan­dem to de­velop and pro­duce world­class mil­i­tary sys­tems of the high­est qual­ity.

The Chief of Air Staff, Air Chief Mar­shal Browne, in his ad­dress said

“Hav­ing come a long way since the fi­nal­i­sa­tion of Air Staff Re­quire­ments (ASR) in 1985, Te­jas has com­pleted an ar­du­ous jour­ney through a com­plex and chal­leng­ing de­sign and devel­op­ment process and has achieved the re­quired cer­ti­fi­ca­tion stan­dards for air­wor­thi­ness, ma­noeu­vra­bil­ity and air-to-air as well as air-to-ground weapon­i­sa­tion. It is in­deed a proud day for the na­tion and par­tic­u­larly for the IAF; since the grant of IOC ac­knowl­edges the ca­pa­bil­i­ties of this air­craft and paves the way for in­duc­tion of LCA Mk I into oper­a­tional ser­vice.”

The creation of a mod­ern and ca­pa­ble mil­i­tary ca­pa­bil­ity for our na­tion’s de­fence hinges en­tirely on the foun­da­tion of a ro­bust indige­nous in­dus­trial base. This is par­tic­u­larly true for the mil­i­tary avi­a­tion sec­tor since it in­volves high-end re­search and spe­cialised pro­duc­tion fa­cil­i­ties. De­sign of a mod­ern fighter air­craft en­com­passes an ar­ray of niche tech­nolo­gies that are very ex­pen­sive and in­vari­ably sub­ject to strin­gent tech­nol­ogy de­nial regimes. There­fore, the suc­cess achieved in this im­por­tant na­tional project is highly sig­nif­i­cant since it demon­strates In­dia’s sci­en­tific prow­ess and puts our na­tion firmly on the path of achiev­ing self-reliance in the crit­i­cal aero­space sec­tor.”

The de­sign and devel­op­ment process for LCA Te­jas has added tremen­dous learn­ing value for our sci­en­tific fra­ter­nity as well as HAL and has cre­ated a vast repos­i­tory of knowl­edge dur­ing the de­sign re­fine­ment and re­align­ment over these years. These must not be lost as we move onto other pro­grammes. Through the ini­tial phases, the Tech­nol­ogy Demon­stra­tor as well as the Lim­ited Se­ries Pro­duc­tion (LSP) air­craft proved the fun­da­men­tal strength of this plat­form while in­cor­po­rat­ing mul­ti­ple en­hance­ments for re­tain­ing LCA’s ef­fi­cacy in the fast paced and tech­nol­ogy driven oper­a­tional en­vi­ron­ment. To­day, the LCA project has seen suc­cess­ful in­te­gra­tion of a state-ofthe-art avion­ics suite in a well de­fined glass cock­pit con­fig­u­ra­tion. The air­craft uses sig­nif­i­cant com­pos­ite struc­tures and in­cor­po­rates ro­bust con­trol laws for the dig­i­tal fly-by-wire sys­tem. Suc­cess­ful in­te­gra­tion of var­i­ous types of air-to-air and air-to-ground weapons have added the much needed fire­power to this fighter. All of these core tech­nolo­gies and de­sign fea­tures have made Te­jas a truly mod­ern fighter air­craft in­spite of be­ing the small­est and light­est in its class.”

The Air Chief said, “While the na­tion cel­e­brates grant of IOC to Te­jas, we can­not rest on these lau­rels since our work is well ‘cut-out’ for the days ahead. With the se­ries pro­duc­tion of 20 IOC air­craft be­ing an im­me­di­ate goal, ADA with its as­so­ci­ated de­sign part­ners and HAL have to con­tinue steer­ing the project steadily to­wards achieve­ment of full oper­a­tional clear­ance (FOC) stan­dards by De­cem­ber 2014, as di­rected by Hon’ble Rak­sha Mantri. It is also im­per­a­tive that we es­tab­lish a ro­bust spare sup­port sup­ply chain for main­tain­ing the fleet in the com­ing years. With the in­te­gra­tion of new BVR mis­siles, in­te­gral guns and air to air re­fu­elling ca­pa­bil­ity, LCA will ac­quire in­creased po­tency and en­hanced oper­a­tional ef­fi­ciency as en­vis­aged at the FOC level.”

As the pro­gramme gath­ers pace, we must re­mem­ber that the fi­nal goal for all of us is not just the LCA MkI, but the LCA MkII. While our air war­riors are fully geared up to in­duct and op­er­a­tionalise the two Mark I squadrons, IAF keenly looks for­ward to in­duc­tion of four squadrons of LCA MkII as the fi­nal ver­sion in its pro­jected force struc­ture. This calls for a fo­cused and co­her­ent ap­proach by all stake­hold­ers with de­ter­mined ef­forts to over­come all ex­ist­ing weak ar­eas in de­sign and man­age­ment. The two pri­mary de­sign driv­ers al­ready iden­ti­fied by us are the crit­i­cal GE 414 en­gine in­te­gra­tion for en­hanced thrust along with per­haps a bet­ter in­take de­sign and im­proved main­tain­abil­ity of the plat­form. With bet­ter HMI func­tion­al­ity and a more ef­fi­cient avionic sys­tem ar­chi­tec­ture, these de­sign im­prove­ments prom­ise to add to LCA’s oper­a­tional ca­pa­bil­i­ties, as en­vi­sioned in the ASR. Un­der pin­ning these de­sign im­prove­ments is the im­me­di­ate need to adopt ef­fi­cient man­age­ment struc­tures. Although we have the most qual­i­fied and ca­pa­ble de­sign­ers and en­gi­neers as part of our team, re­luc­tance to change im­pedes our abil­ity to make mid course cor­rec­tions and steer the project away from ob­vi­ous pit­falls. The way ahead calls for close mon­i­tor­ing and monthly re­views at the high­est lev­els. I there­fore, urge all agen­cies to be ready to ‘bite the bul­let’ and never hes­i­tate in mak­ing tough de­ci­sions as they work to­wards the fi­nal in­duc­tion of LCA MkII into IAF.”

The his­toric event was at­tended among oth­ers by the Sci­en­tific Ad­vi­sor to De­fence Min­is­ter Av­inash Chan­der; the Sec­re­tary of De­fence Pro­duc­tion G.C. Pati; Chair­man of HAL R.K. Tyagi; Pro­gramme Direc­tor of ADA P.S. Subra­manyam, and Direc­tor Gen­eral (Aero) and Chief Ex­ec­u­tive, CEMILAC Dr K. Tamil Mani.

The De­fence Min­is­ter A.K. Antony hands over the Re­lease to Ser­vice doc­u­ment to the Chief of the Air Staff, Air Chief Mar­shal N.A.K. Browne, at a func­tion in Ben­galuru on De­cem­ber 20, 2013. The DG-Aero and CE CEMILAC, Dr K. Tamil Mani is also seen.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from India

© PressReader. All rights reserved.