India’s jet fighter to deliver precision guided bombs

June 6th, 2008 - 8:24 pm ICT by IANS  

New Delhi, June 6 (IANS) After successful completion of its hot weather trials, India’s indigenously developed light combat aircraft (LCA) Tejas will now be configured to deliver precision guided bombs. The trials for this will take place in the Rajasthan desert later this year, a defence ministry official said Friday.

Already running 10 years behind schedule, the supersonic multi-role fighter aircraft would, however, be armed with only “limited weaponry” when it is inducted by the Indian Air Force (IAF) in 2012.

Earlier Tejas, a project of the state-runHindustan Aeronautics Ltd (HAL), was to have been armed with air-to-air beyond visual range missiles, air-to-ground missiles and cluster bombs. However, the limited thrust provided by its GE-404 engine has limited its arsenal.

India will soon invite bids for developing a more powerful engine for the Tejas as the development of its indigenous Kaveri engine is yet to be completed.

The delay in the Tejas project prompted the IAF to float a global tender last year for 126 medium multi-role combat aircraft. The responses are now being examined and field trials of the aircraft in contention are likely to begin early next year.

The aim of the hot weather trials was to check operation of the aircraft’s systems under high ambient temperature conditions of over 40 degree Celsius.

“A first look at the test data indicated that all the trial objectives were met satisfactorily. The aircraft is now being configured for delivering precision guided bombs in the deserts of Rajasthan later this year,” an official said.

During the trials, the Tejas flew non-stop for more than 1,000 km from Bangalore, where it has been undergoing flight trials since 2000, when it first flew. This was made possible by the recent integration of external fuel tanks on the aircraft.

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