Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL) recently conducted maiden test flight of its Light Combat Aircraft Tejas in Final Operational Clearance-standard. The jet bearing number SP-21 was piloted by Air Cmde. K A Muthana (Retd), Chief Test Flying (Fixed Wing) of HAL. The aircraft took-off from HAL Airport and was airborne for 40 minutes.
"HAL achieved the momentous feat within a record time of 12 months after release of Drawing Applicability List (DAL) and SOP (Standard Operating Procedure) by CEMILAC", the statement said.
The FOC Tejas is said to be more advanced and was developed with improvements suggested after inducting LCA IOC in IAF. "It imbibes a lot of manufacturing improvements which were based on the operational feedback of LCA IOC (Initial Operational Clearance) fleet with IAF", HAL said.
IAF will soon induct 16 FOC-Standard Tejas for its 18 Flying Bullets squadron based out of Sulur, where the first Tejas squadron 45 Flying Daggers was established, consisting 16 IOC Tejas.
Once all the 16 FOC Tejas are delivered, HAL will covert the IOC Tejas to Final Operational Clearance-standard and will then move to manufacture the Tejas MkI.
Here's how the FOC Tejas is better than IOC Tejas and what are the changes in the new fighter jet-
The biggest criticism of the LCA Tejas IOC version was its limited range and fuel carrying capacity. The IOC Tejas currently carries two fixed tanks of 1,200 and 800 litre capacity. The FOC-Standard Tejas now gets an additional tank with 725-litre capacity installed in the central line, just at the centre of fuselage.
To enhance the range further, the FOC Tejas further gets a mid-air refueling probe for the very first time, which means, it can fly for longer missions without worrying much about the fuel. This however, will increase the radar cross section of the indigenous jet, which otherwise has a small radar signature thanks to its compact design.
The FOC Tejas carries a Gsh-23 auto cannon with twin barrel 23 mm gun. The auto cannon now has better software and has been tested on ground. Soon, the cannon will be tested for its air combat capabilities too.
The LCA FOC Tejas will also carry the Astra BVR missiles (Beyond Visual Range) in future. Astra is home-made BVR air-to-air missile with 110 km range. Currently Tejas carries Derby BVR sourced from Israel.
The FOC Tejas will have a better maneuverability and agility that will help Tejas to touch 8G force at lower speed, increasing its flying envelope. Tejas can maneuver from -3G to 8G. To achieve such agility, changes have been made to the mechanical system including the flaps. This will also help Tejas to save itself from incoming missiles by quickly pulling a 8G move without stalling mid-air.