Airborne for around 40 minutes, the first Light Combat Aircraft (LCA) in FOC standard (SP-21) took to the skies on 17 March 2020. This was the maiden flight of this aircraft which was piloted by Air Cmde KA Muthana (Retd), who is the Chief Test Flying (Fixed Wing). According to the state-owned Hindustan Aeronautics Limited’s (HAL), R Madhavan, CMD, “The success of the flight is indicative of the teamwork with various stakeholders of LCA `Tejas’ project which includes DGAQA, CEMILAC, IAF, ADA etc.” With this major success, the way has been paved for the production of the remaining 15 fighters from the FOC block. These are expected to be delivered by the next financial year. This feat was achieved by the HAL in 12 months once the Drawing Applicability List (DAL) and SOP by Center for Military Airworthiness and Certification (CEMILAC) were released.
 
What does the FOC aircraft have onboard?
  1. According to HAL the FOC aircraft are equipped with advanced features.
  2. These include Air-to-Air refuelling, Beyond Visual Range (BVR) missile system, and other features.
  3. It also comes with a lot of improvements. These manufacturing improvements are based on the operational feedback of LCA IOC fleet with IAF.
  4. According to highly placed sources, Indian Air Force (IAF) is planning to order another Squadron of FOC standard.
So Far
  1. The IAF has placed order 40 indigenous LCAs. These orders placed with HAL include 16 fighters each in Initial Operational Clearance (IOC) and Final Operational Clearance (FOC). Also, the order includes 8 trainers, explained a HAL officer.
  2. The IAF first inducted the LCA in squadron ‘Flying Daggers’ in 2016.
  3. With the increased thrust towards technology development, HAL has told the IAF that it can fly the LCA `Tejas’ with hot refuelling capacity.
  4. This aircraft jointly developed by HAL and ADA has carbon-fibre composite (CFC) structures and skins, and a modern glass cockpit.