India will showcase and try to hard sell its indigenous Light Combat Aircraft (LCA) Tejas and Advanced Light Helicopter (ALH) Dhruv at the air show here in February to prospective buyers from abroad, an official said .
“Tejas will be on flying and static display at the Aero India Show here Feb 18-22 to solicit foreign buyers, as we have started producing them (fighters) for the Indian Air Force (IAF),” outgoing chairman of state-run Hindustan Aeronautics Ltd (HAL) R.K. Tyagi told reporters here.
The defence behemoth will also display military and civil variants of Dhruv at the biennial international event where producers, buyers, users and other stakeholders the world over will participate in thousands.
The multi-role fighters, which are part of the first series production for induction into the IAF fleet soon, will be seen in action at the five-day aerospace event.
“We delivered the first aircraft (Mark-1 version) to the IAF recently (Jan 17). Prospective buyers will be briefed on the fighter’s unique features and abilities in combat role,” Tyagi said.
Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar also handed over the technical documents of the homegrown LCA to Chief of Air Staff Air Chief Marshal Arup Raha here though the fighter is yet to secure the final operation clearance (FOC) from the military regulator.
The IAF signed contract in 2006 for delivery of 20 Tejas (Mark 1) to form its squadron in the IOC configuration and the build standard documents for the fleet were finalised September 2013.
“We are augmenting our capacity to increase LCA production from two a year to 16 in the coming years at a cost of Rs.1,350 crore, of which the IAF and the Indian Navy will share 25 percent each and the balance 50 percent by us,” Tyagi said.
As a single-engine multi-role supersonic fighter, Tejas will replace the IAF’s ageing Russia-made MiG-21 fleet when inducted in six squadrons after defence regulator, the Centre for Military Airworthiness and Certification (Cemilac), gives FOC later this year.
The fourth-generation fighter received the initial operational clearance (IOC-2) in December 2013 for evaluation by IAF ace pilots on various technical parameters.
Weighing 8.5 tonnes, Tejas can carry three tonnes of weapons, including air-to-air missiles, laser guided bombs, guns, conventional/retarded bombs and beyond visual range missiles.
Tejas, which has achieved only 60 percent indigenisation till date, is also fitted with digital fly-by-wire system, flight control systems and open architecture computer.
Each squadron will have 20 fighters and will be based at the Sulur air force base near Coimbatore in Tamil Nadu.
In the design and development stage, HAL produced 15 LCA aircraft, including seven in the limited series production, two technology demonstrators, three prototype, two trainer prototype and one naval prototype.
Designed and developed by the state-run Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) and its aeronautical agencies, the ambitious LCA project overshot budgetary estimates and extended deadlines during the last three decades.
Asserting that the much-delayed Intermediate Jet Trainer (IJT) was on right track, the chairman said it would be delivered to IAF soon for initial operations clearance (IOC).
“We have invested Rs.7,000 crore in the last three years to modernise manufacturing and assembly lines to roll out various aircraft, including fighters and helicopters,” Tyagi said.