FIRST TOUCHDOWN ON FOREIGN SOIL

BY RISHABH SURENDRAN

As a vision to showcase India’s indigenous air power, the Light Combat Aircraft (LCA) a.k.a Tejas participated in the recently concluded Bahrain Air Show.

Accompanied by the Sarang Helicopter Display Team, two of these home-grown fighters flew from Bangalore to Sakhir Air Base, Bahrain with a refuel halt at Muscat.

After having received the Initial Operation Clearance, LCA was handed over to the IAF last year. The Final Operation Clearance expected in mid-2016 will lead to Tejas being operationalised in the IAF.

Tejas – a single-seater, jet powered, multi-role fighter developed by the Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) and the Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL) .It is a 4.5 generation aircraft with supersonic abilities and has a compound delta wing design. It has a max speed of 1920 km/hr.

The LCA carried out several maneuvers like vertical loop, barrel roll, high speed low pass, an 8G gravity pull etc.

The Bahrain Air show was a good platform for displaying the LCA’s abilities and the look-out for potential customers. A week after the Airshow, Tejas has seemed to attract buyers from the Middle East for discussions and other specifications.

While all the eyes were on Tejas’ performance, the Sino-Pakistani fighter jet JF-17 Thunder was nowhere to be seen. The JF-17 had backed out of the event at the last moment. Pakistan recently claimed that Sri Lanka was interested in the aircraft, but eventually withdrew from their decision.

The development of the Navy version of the LCA is under process and would be a great boost to the naval aircraft fleet once complete. The LCA (Navy) can be used for Maritime combat as well as Reconnaissance purposes to aid or replace the ageing Sea Harriers.

To conclude, the LCA’s air display has given the world a clear image of India’s indigenous Technology and has given a thrust to its flagship ‘Make in India’ programme.

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