This is India's first fighter jet to be built largely at home. The actual work on this Light Combat Aircraft (LCA) began exactly a decade ago. Rs 14, 500 crore have been spent on developing the Tejas; obstacles included skepticism at home and foreign countries that refused to share technology. That's what makes the Tejas so special for the DRDO's Aeronautical Development Agency.
Defence Minister A K Antony handed over the Initial Operational Clearance certificate to Air Chief Marshal P V Naik at the HAL airport in Bangalore.
For the immediate future, the Indian Air Force plans to use 20 Tejas planes, with the number escalating to 200 over the next decade, if the plane proves itself.
"We want to strengthen armed forces by giving modern equipment at the earliest," said the Defence Minister.
Some Tejas highlights:
- Culmination of decades of work by Indian Defence Scientists and technicians.
- Tejas will initially form one squadron (20 aircraft) in the IAF.
- Conceived and launched in 1983 with a meagre funding of Rs 560 crore
- Tejas' engine, radar, some navigation technologies and some display systems are imported. But officials at the ADA asserted ahead of the launch that the design, development, testing, certification and mastery of the system engineering is completely Indian.
- Officials say in another five years, Tejas will be completely indigenous and the higher variant will be ready by 2014.
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