The Chief of Air Staff (CAS) Air Chief Marshal VR Chaudhari reviewed the status of the Light Combat Aircraft (LCA) programme in Air Headquarters recently. Also in attendance were senior functionaries from the Ministry of Defence, DRDO, HAL and ADA. Opening the proceedings, the CAS brought out that the LCA has been the flag bearer of the Indian Air Force’s (IAF) efforts towards indigenisation of its aircraft fleet. He said that given the nature of this project of national importance, it is required that all stakeholders adopt a collaborative approach towards its success. The programme has been the harbinger of Atmanirbhar Bharat and Make in India initiatives of the nation. More importantly, it is a flag bearer of India’s self-reliance in the aerospace sector.
During the review, it was brought out that all contracted fighter variants of the LCA Mk 1 had been delivered to the IAF. Representatives of HAL assured the CAS of the timely delivery of the contracted twin-seaters in the coming months, as well. Further to the LCA Mk 1, 83 LCA Mk-1A aircraft have also been contracted by the IAF in 2021. The Chairman & Managing Director of HAL assured those present that the deliveries of this advanced variant of the LCA would commence by Feb 2024.
While complimenting HAL, the CAS indicated that based on these assurances, the LCA Mk 1A could be inducted in a newly raised squadron in one of the IAF’s operational bases, early next year. Notwithstanding the project delays that were brought out during the course of the review, the CAS lauded the efforts of all stakeholders and emphasized on the need to incorporate the lessons learnt from the LCA programme into future indigenous Design & Developmental projects. With timely deliveries of the more capable variant, the LCA Mk 1A is likely to see increased deployments at forward bases, besides participation in international exercises in the days to come.