Breakthrough for Tejas combat aircraft: Antony

February 16th, 2008 - 4:20 pm ICT by admin  

New Delhi, Feb 16 (IANS) Indian defence scientists have achieved a “breakthrough” with the air force agreeing to induct two squadrons of the indigenous Tejas light combat aircraft, Defence Minister A.K. Antony said here Saturday. “In the past, the Indian Air Force (IAF) was not willing to accept even one light combat aircraft (Tejas). But now, after trials, they have agreed to induct two squadrons,” Antony said at the ongoing defence exposition here.

“This is a breakthrough.”

Antony also said that the development of the multi-role combat aircraft was on schedule but admitted to problems with some associated programmes of this ambitious project.

“You all know there is a problem with its Kaveri engine,” Antony said, referring to the parallel programme to develop a turbofan engine by the Bangalore-based Gas Turbine Research Establishment.

“But this is being sorted out.”

The aircraft first flew in 2000 with the development of four prototypes, powered by General Electric engines. Among them, they have logged over 400 flying hours so far without mishap, defence ministry officials said.

The weaponised version of the Tejas has also been successfully flown.

The light combat aircraft programme was launched in 1983 to primarily replace the ageing fleet of MiG-21 fighters of the Indian Air Force (IAF) and also give a fillip to the nation’s indigenous aerospace industry.

The programme was eventually named Tejas in May 2003. Some 100 defence-related organisations, academic institutions and research bodies are associated with the programme.

The delay in the Tejas project has forced the IAF to float a global tender for 126 multi-role combat aircraft, for which request for proposals have been sent out to six manufacturers, including Lockheed Martin, Boeing and Eurofighter.

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