Bengaluru: Eighteen years after the first prototype took to the skies, the Light Combat Aircraft (LCA) Tejas is on the verge of getting the Final Operational Clearance (FOC).
Sources confirmed to Onmanorama on Tuesday that the final DAL (Drawing Applicability Lists) of Tejas was released to Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL) on December 31. (DAL is the standard of preparation for production that forms the basis for the final product to be delivered to the customer.)
Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) Director General Dr Tessy Thomas is said to have handed over the DAL to HAL.
“Keeping the deadline set for FOC, the build standard documents have been handed over yesterday. A formal announcement will be made this month after we complete the procedures,” an official said.
While HAL and Aeronautical Development Agency (ADA) were mum on the matter, Onmanorama can confirm that the much-awaited FOC for the project is now a formality.
“The release of final DAL signals the completion of FOC points. Even if there are some fine-tuning needs to be done, they are not flight-critical in nature. The project has landed on FOC zone,” an official said.
A meeting of certifying agencies, representatives of HAL, ADA and Indian Air Force (IAF) held in Delhi last week seems to have taken the decision on FOC.
“The last weapon detachment of Tejas has been a huge success. We can go on fine-tuning the platform, but the production agency too needs to fulfil their goals. A lot of official documents linked to the project will get closed now,” an official said.
In 2018, Tejas logged 619 flights, the highest ever so far. The previous highest was 503 flights in 2013. HAL had begun the work on FOC based on provisional DAL released last year.
“HAL must produce the first FOC aircraft in nine months from now,” the official added.
As reported by Onmanorama earlier, HAL had begun initial production work of FOC variants of Tejas in November last.
The sub-assemblies of front fuselage for SP-21 to SP-24 has already been completed. These will now be shifted to the main jig.
HAL is confident that the first FOC fighter (SP-21) will fly out by October this year.
With the vendors set to start supplying structures in the next four months and reduced cycle time for production already in place, the LCA Division of HAL is striving hard to script an inspiring story during FY 2019-2020.