Light Combat Aircraft (LCA) Tejas, which was flown for the first time about two decades ago, is on the course of achieving a major milestone.
The aircraft had its maiden flight on January 4, 2001, when Wing Commander Rajiv Kothiyal took the maiden flight from the HAL Airport in Bengaluru. Since then, it has completed 4,985 test flights (as on February 16) and is on the way to making 5,000 successful test flights in the days to come.
As per flight data recorded by the aeronautical development agency (ADA), the nodal agency for the design and development of the LCA programme, 17 Tejas aircraft comprising technology demonstrators, protototypes, limited series production variants and naval prototypes have been part of the test flights since 2001.
Apart from the fact that the aircraft is on the threshold of achieving 5,000 test flights another significant part is Tejas’s flawless flight safety record. There have been no accidents in the Tejas’s flight record since its first flight 20 years ago, which is considered to be rare in the world of flight testing.
Kota Harinarayana, former project director and widely regarded as the father of the LCA, told BM recently that the credit should go to the scientists, engineers and pilots for Tejas’ impeccable record despite limited support during the initial days of the programme.
“Thousands of hours of flying and yet there has not been a single accident which is a record in itself. Credit should go to the scientists, engineers and pilots who have been part of this programme,” he said.
Apart from the test aircraft, there are also LCA’s which has been in service with the IAF since 2016 after it got inducted.
Recently, the LCA programme got a huge shot in the arm as the Cabinet Committee on Security cleared a Rs 48,000 crore deal to HAL for 73 Mark 1A versions and 10 Mark 1 Trainer Tejas Aircraft. The contract was formally handed over to HAL during the Aero India show.
Surya Kiran to mark 1971 war victory
The Indian Air Force’s (IAF) Surya Kiran aerobatic team, which put up a scintillating air display at the recently concluded Aero India in Bengaluru, is now gearing up for its next display.
The team will be carrying out flypasts across the country to commemorate 50 years of 1971 India Pak war. “The Surya Kiran team will be carrying out flypasts in different formations over the entire country, starting with southern India this week. Stay tuned for routes and timings. Catch us in the sky. These flypasts form a part of celebrations of 50 years of the 1971 war victory,” the team’s official Twitter handle stated.
At the recently concluded Aero India, IAF’s two aerobatic teams the Surya Kiran and the Sarang team put up a combined display for the very first time.
Raised in 1996 as a six-aircraft aerobatic team, Surya Kiran quickly graduated to a nine-aircraft formation in 1998. It is stationed in Air Force Station Bidar and only fighter aircraft pilots get posted in the squadron for a three-year term.
The team was briefly disbanded after the 2011 edition of the Aero India as the IAF decided to reroute the Kiran Mk-II’s solely for training purposes due to shortage of trainer aircraft.
The Surya Kiran team’s aircraft are painted with orange and white colours and is one among the few nine-aircraft aerobatics teams in the world.