New Delhi: The indigenously-built Light Combat Aircraft (LCA), Tejas, received around 10 concessions, which enabled it to get the final operational clearance (FOC) last month, ThePrint has learnt.
The FOC was granted during the Aero India Show at Bengaluru in February, allowing the aircraft to be inducted into the Indian Air Force (IAF). Production, however, has already been delayed by seven years.
Highly-placed sources in the defence establishment told ThePrint that the drop tank (external fuel tanks) and other weapon configurations in the aircraft are yet to be cleared while the airframe fatigue test is still underway.
These are some of the 10 concessions granted to Tejas with regard to the FOC.
The number of concessions is significant as the much-delayed fighter jet is being inducted into the IAF to boost its depleting squadron strength. They are set to replace the ageing MiG-21 fleet.
In military industry parlance, concessions are those requirements that could be included at a later stage, in the final make of the aircraft, when feasible.
An officer involved in the Tejas programme, on condition of anonymity, however, said these concessions do not comprise structural changes to the aircraft. But the officer did say that “the airframe fatigue test is in progress and will take some time”.
The airframe fatigue test is a crucial test to determine the strength of an aircraft. It entails hanging a fully-loaded aircraft for a certain number of hours.
HAL spokesperson Gopal Sutar told ThePrint that given the complex eco-system of defence manufacturing, concessions are a norm in the aerospace industry.
“HAL manufactures products based on mutually approved terms with its customers,” Sutar said. “In case of LCA Tejas, multiple partners are involved in its design and production and hence we cannot comment on concessions that may not imply to us directly at this stage.”