Bengaluru, February 21: Chief of Army Staff (COAS) General Bipin Rawat on Thursday took a sortie in Light Combat Aircraft - Tejas during an Aero India in Bengaluru. After the sortie, Gen Rawat described the fighter jet as a "wonderful aircraft" that would add to the air power. The Army Chief sat behind a pilot in a two-seater trainer variant of the Tejas. On Wednesday Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL)-made fighter jet received the Final Operational Clearance (FOC) at the air show. Air Chief Marshal BS Dhanoa Slams HAL For Delay in Production of Tejas Aircraft, Says 'Only10 Out of 20 Jets Delivered Till Now'.
After the sortie in the skies above the Yelahanka Air Force Station, north of Bengaluru, General Rawat said, “Flight in the LCA was a wonderful experience.” He also termed it as an experience of a lifetime. He also said the LCA targeting systems were good. "If it gets added to the inventory, it will add to air power," said the Army chief. Tejas was manufactured under the 'Make in India' programme. the Army chief also flew in the Light Combat Helicopter at the Aero India 2019. 2 Surya Kiran Hawks Crash in Yelahanka Ahead of Aero India 2019, One Pilot Killed.
Video of the Army Chief flying the Tejas:
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The FOC Certificate and Release to Service Document (RSD) were handed over to the Chief of Air Staff Air Chief Marshal B S Dhanoa on the opening day of Aero India 2019 on Wednesday. FOC involves the addition of key capabilities to the Initial Operational Clearance (IOC) aircraft which are Beyond Visual Range Missile capabilities. Air-to-Air Refuelling, Air-to-Ground FOC earmarked weapons and general flight envelope expansion. Aero India 2019: US’ Lockheed Martin Bids for F-21 Fighter Jets for IAF Under ‘Make in India’ Programme.
At present, two contracts have been signed between IAF and HAL for the LCA one for the procurement of 20 Initial Operational Clearance (IOC) standard aircraft and another for 20 Final Operational Clearance (FOC) standard aircraft. Till now only 10 Tejas aircraft are in operation in the force.
(With inputs from PTI)