New Delhi: The indigenously-manufactured Light Combat Aircraft (LCA) Tejas has performed well while it was put to trial by the Indian Air Force (IAF) in war-like operational conditions during Gagan Shakti, its biggest ever 14-day war exercise.
“We did trials and validation of operational efficiency of LCA Tejas. We were able to generate six sorties per platform per day. In this exercise, we had deployed eight platforms,” said an IAF official who was associated with this exercise. The exercise started on April 8 and concluded on April 21. On the first day, six of Tejas jets reported “snag” which were of a different kind. “But we were able to get those rectified soon,” said the official.
The officials associated with the exercise expressed satisfaction regarding the performance but were also worried about the slow production rate. “We are happy with the Tejas. We are looking for fast production and also induction into the force,” they said. The Tejas LCA is a supersonic, single-seat, single-engine multirole light fighter jet that has been under development since 1983 by state-owned Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL).
The ninth IAF Tejas LCA completed its maiden flight in March. On July 1, 2016, the LCA Tejas was inducted into the ‘Flying Daggers’ 45 Squadron of the IAF and has been placed to replace the MiG-21 aircraft. In Gagan Shakti 2018, the IAF displayed its might and conducted the biggest ever exercise with a focus on key areas like long distance operations, aerial combat, air to surface combat, paratrooper assault and medical evacuation.
In this exercise, the Air Force validated its ‘Swing Capability’ where the IAF can get ready and reach from Western to Northern sector within 48 hours. On being asked about a two-front war-like situation, the sources said, “We have tried to maximise what we have. We have to fight with what we have.” In this exercise, 1,400 officers and 14,000 men participated. There were a total of 11,000 sorties conducted within days, which otherwise are done in a month’s time. 9,000 sorties done by the fighter aircraft alone were conducted in the pan-India peacetime air operations. All qualified and medically-fit crew up to 48 years of age were made proficient and were employed during the exercise.