Hindustan Aeronautics Limited handed over the first indigenously-built Tejas Light Combat Aircraft (LCA) Tejas on Saturday to Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar and Air chief marshal Anup in Bengaluru.
The first LCA was handed over to the IAF after Initial Operational Clearance-II, which signifies that Tejas is airworthy in different conditions.
This will be the start of a process of induction of the fighters being built at home under a project which has already estimated to have cost the exchequer over Rs 17,000 crore.
The IOC-I was granted to the aircraft, being built by state-owned Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL), in January 2011. The Final Operational Clearance (FOC) is expected by the year-end.
The first IOC was granted after the aircraft successfully completed its maiden flight on September 30 last year.
The sources said 20 aircraft will be built by 2017-2018, to make the first squadron of the aircraft.
The LCA programme was initiated in 1983 to replace the ageing MiG-21s in IAF’s combat fleet but has missed several deadlines due to several reasons.
Hindustan Aeronautics Limited’s LCA Project Group has has been upgraded to a full-fledged division to look after production in a systematic way with more investments.
HAL has carried out around thousands of sorties of LCA and conducted outstation flight trials at Leh, Jamnagar, Jaisalmer, Uttaralai Gwalior, Pathankot and Goa for cold weather, armament and weapon deliveries, MultiMode Radar (MMR), Radar Warning Receiver (RWR), hot weather and missile firing flight trials, its officials have said.
Tejas has also successfully demonstrated weapon delivery capability during weapon trials at Jamnagar and Jaisalmer.