Light Combat Aircraft [LCA] SP-21 with Final Operational Clearance[FOC] finally took to the sky. When a fighter jet is given FOC it means that it has satisfied all the minimum requirement set to it by it’s consumer[IAF] and it is also combat worthy now.
It is good to know that LCA with FOC finally took to the sky. It is important to remember that making a modern fighter jet is extremely challenging. Only a handful of nations can claim to develop a fighter jet. Though LCA mk1 is not very cutting edge in the present scenario but it can totally replace MiG-21 which are just too dangerous to fly due to old age. This FOC configuration, that is LCA mk1 will be produced in small number that is a total of 16. Air force has further added 83 orders but for LCA mk1A, which will be much more advanced compared to this LCA mk1 and will take another 3 to 4 years to get into production.
Features added in LCA SP-21
- Air to Air refueling, you can see refueling probe on the nose of the Aircraft.
- Beyond Visual Range(BVR) Missile system.
- Manufacturing improvements.
- Option to add additional fuel drop tank.
As of now LCA Tejas is not deployed along the border with Pakistan and China but it would be proud day to see LCA Tejas defending the borders one fine day and replace MiG-21s . China has advance Air Force and LCA will be need in larger number to counter them.
Even though it took decades for LCA to become combat ready, it has provided industries valuable lesson and this will result in faster roll out of more advanced LCA mark-1A and LCA mark-2. India is a developing country and cannot afford to waste a lot of money on defence. A modern fighter jet costs around 500 crore rupees, that is hell lot of money and that is why it is very important that we get this thing made in India. I was not sure earlier but now I think Indian industry is in the right direction and I am looking forward to one day see a huge number of Indian fighter jet in Indian Air Force.
As of now a total of 123 LCA fighter jets have been ordered. This decision has been taken mostly to keep this Fighter program rolling, which is something necessary. Also there needs to large participation from private players in defense industry else things can go bad.