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Plenty of interest in Tejas, says top DRDO official

C. Jaishankar

Light Combat Aircraft “was star of Bangalore Air Show”



W. Selvamurthy

RAMANATHAPURAM: W. Selvamurthy, Chief Controller, Life Sciences, Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO), said there could be a good export market for Tejas, the country's first indigenously built supersonic fighter aircraft, if the Central Government okayed it.

Speaking to The Hindu recently, he said the DRDO had already received enquiries for Tejas from various countries; the plane was given the Initial Operating Clearance (IOC) only very recently by Defence Minister A. K. Antony. The Light Combat Aircraft (LCA) was the star attraction at the recently conducted Aero India air show in Bangalore, where 45 countries took part. Stating that India was among a very few countries in the world, which were capable of producing fighter planes, Mr. Selvamurthy said that third world countries, developing countries and even some of the developed countries were markets for Tejas.

Since the production cost, research and development cost of the Tejas was relatively low compared to the other fighter aircrafts, India could sell the Tejas at a cheaper rate. Since the production models were doing extremely well, there wouldn't be any problem in obtaining Final Operating Clearance (FCA) for the fighter aircraft, he said.

In line with the requirements of the Indian Air Force, the process of fine tuning of Tejas including flight envelope, flight manoeuvrability, pay load integration and other issues had been taken up.

The fighter plane was expected to get the Final Operating Clearance in the first quarter of 2012, the official said.

Mr. Selvamurthy said out of 40 Tejas aircraft ordered by the Indian Air Force (IAF), the Hindustan Aeronautical Limited (HAL) had already completed the production of 10. It had already been figured in the inventory of IAF.

Another 20 aircraft would be completed after the Final Operating Clearance was given.

It is expected that an order might be received for a large number of aircraft in 2012. HAL had also geared up its capacity building facilities including assembly line and others.

It had planned to increase the capacity to increase the number of aircrafts built in a year to meet the growing demand.

The distinguished scientist said the cost of aircraft, which stood around Rs.130 crore, is expected to come down once the HAL started large-scale production of Tejas.

The country had been placed in comfortable position as far as Tejas was concerned as it was not depended upon anybody for life cycle support, maintenance cost and others because of the indigenous technology.

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