India’s Tejas Light Combat Aircraft (LCA) is set to fly for the first time with the Israeli Elta Multi-Mode Radar (MMR) onboard.
An Indian defense ministry official confirmed to Aviation Week that “weather permitting, we are aiming for the flight on April 23.”
Preparations are in full swing at Hindustan Aeronautics Ltd’s (HAL) military airport for the critical flight, with last-minute mandatory safety checks underway. Airport sources confirmed that all flying activities would be stopped during the Tejas flight.
“We are all set to fly the limited series production [LSP-3] aircraft ... with MMR for the first time,” an official said. “All preflight checks are over, including high-speed taxi trials and engine ground runs.”
India opted for the proven Israeli Elta radar in May 2007 to enter the full-throttle weaponization stage of the program, and the radars arrived for integration in 2009. India looked toward Israel after homegrown joint efforts by HAL and India’s Defense Research and Development Organization to develop MMRs were delayed.
The Tejas LSP-3 flight comes in the wake of recent criticism by the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Defense over delays in the program. The panel expressed its desire that engine delays be sorted out and the fighter made operational as soon as possible.
India’s Aeronautical Development Agency and HAL have so far clocked 1,341 flights, and the Indian Air Force is hoping to induct the first squadron by 2014-15.
Light Combat Aircraft photo: Rahuldevnath