In a major breakthrough, indigenously developed Light Combat Aircraft (LCA) Tejas has successfully test fired an air-to-air beyond visual range (BVR) missile from the Goa coast on April, 27. It demonstrated its overall capability as an effective combat jet. This move has paved the way to receive Final Operational Clearance (FOC). The test firing of the missile from a Tejas jet was carried out on April 27 off the Goa coast and it met all operational requirements. Earlier, Tejas was given clearance for deployment of armaments and other missiles, reported PTI, quoting defence ministry officials.
The Indian Air Force (IAF) had ordered the first batch of 40 Tejas Mark-1 version. The Hindustan Aeronautical Limited (HAL) is to make four major upgrades in Mark-1 version and incorporated into the second batch of 83 Tejas fighter jets, for which a request for proposal (RFP) was issued to HAL by the IAF in December last year. This new batch will be of LCA Tejas Mark 1A version. The total cost of these 83 jets will be around Rs 50,000 crore.
The successful launch of the BVR missile will expedite issuance of the Final Operational Clearance (FOC) to the aircraft. LCA Tejas is developed by state-run aerospace organisation Hindustan Aeronautics Limited and Aeronautical Development Agency (ADA) of Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO).
The Defence Ministry in an official statement said, “The Light Combat Aircraft (LCA) successfully fired Derby air-to-air BVR Range missile to expand the firing envelope as well as to demonstrate safe operation of the aircraft.” According to the press release, the missile was launched from the LCA piloted by Wing Commander Siddharth Singh yesterday from the firing range off the Goa coast after exhaustive study of the missile separation characteristics.
Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman appreciated the DRDO and other agencies for developing Tejas, a world-class aircraft. DRDO Chairman S Christopher confirmed that with this firing, the Tejas had moved an inch closer towards FOC certification. According to the ministry, integration of Derby, a BVR class missile, is one of the major objectives of Final Operational Clearance of LCA Tejas. Two other Tejas aircraft tracked the aircraft which fired derby to capture the firing event in the specially instrumented high speed cameras for detailed analysis of the test launch of the missile. The entire planning, practice sorties and final firing was carried out by ADA and its National Flight Test Centre (NFTC). According to PTI, the ministry confirmed that based on the successful integration and demonstration, Regional Centre for Military Airworthiness (RCMA), a unit of DRDO had cleared the series production aircraft of squadron 45, to be equipped with Derby operational capability.