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IAF 'reasonably happy' with LCA Tejas: Barbora

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LCA 'Tejas'. A file photo

NEW DELHI (PTI): The Indian Air Force Tuesday said it is "reasonably happy" with the lightweight multirole aircraft fighter 'Tejas', which is expected to obtain the Initial Operational Clearance next month, though there are certain issues to be sorted out yet.

"There are no serious problems that we visualise that can't be tackled. There are issues and it is a joint venture... For the IOC part of it, we are quite reasonably happy," IAF Vice Chief Air marshal P K Barbora told reporters here.

He was asked whether the force was happy with the indigenously-developed LCA 'Tejas', which is expected to obtain IOC in January next year after which it would be ready for induction into the IAF.

Barbora said though the programme has come a "little late", it would help India achieve the goal of designing and developing a fighter aircraft indigenously. It would also help in future projects, he said.

The IAF Vice Chief said the first squadron of the LCA is likely to be formed by the end of next year at Sulur in Coimbatore in Tamil Nadu.

"Initially, for the sake of stability the aircraft would be based in Bangalore itself, hopefully, the teething problems, which will be there, would be resolved," he added.

The IAF is expected to induct two squadrons of the aircraft by the middle of next year.

The aircraft has been manufactured by HAL at its Bangalore facility and its designer DRDO's Aeronautical Development Agency (ADA) is also based there.

Asked how many LCAs are being planned to be inducted by the IAF, Barbora said, "We have ordered for 40 at the moment and we would further look into the issue after the LCA Mk II is ready."

ADA and HAL are also working on developing the LCA Mk II, which would equipped with the GE-414 engines.

Asked to comment on the status of the M-MRCA programme, the IAF Vice Chief said the IAF had submitted its report on the field evaluation trials with the Defence Ministry around six months ago.

Under the deal expected to be worth over USD 11 billion, IAF is planning to procure 126 multi-role combat aircraft for which six aircraft including F-16, F/A-18, Gripen, Eurofighter, Rafale and the MiG 35 are in the race.

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aircraft  LCA  
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