Almost after a three-decade long wait, ‘Tejas’ the indigenously developed Light Combat Aircraft (LCA) was finally inducted into the Indian Air Force with two fighter planes joining the Squadron 45 “Flying Daggers” on July 1 in Bengaluru.
The state-owned aerospace and defence company, Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL) handed over the first two LCAs to the IAF at a ceremony preceded by a ‘Sarva Dharma Pooja’ (inter-faith prayer) at the Aircraft System Testing Establishment.
An IAF official, in his statement, said, “Such rituals are customary at inductions and before staff training sessions.”
Commanding Officer Group Captain Madhav Rangachari, who flew the aircraft at the induction ceremony, while talking to the media said, “It feels like I am on the top of the world. I feel honoured and privileged. Easily it’s the best aircraft I have flown. It’s comparable and on a par with any fourth generation fighter jet in world today,”
The induction ceremony was attended by Air Marshal Jasbir Walia, Air Officer Commanding-in-Chief, Southern Air Command and senior HAL executives.
HAL will deliver the next 18 aircraft, along with four trainers in 2018. They will be part of the new Squadron 45 ‘Flying Daggers’ under the command of the Group Captain. His team will consist of seven officers, 42 air warriors and about 20 non-commissioned officers.
A total development cost of Rs. 7,965 crore, including Rs. 2500 crore for the Navy version, was given out by the Parliament in February 2014. The Navy version is still undergoing few ship-based tests.
Sulur, Tamil Nadu has been finalised as the LCA’s base.