With Tejas moving to Sulur, the IAF now wants the fighters delivered at faster rate

by Anantha Krishnan M

BANGALORE: The Indian Air Force (IAF) may get the control of the Light Combat Aircraft (LCA) Tejas program from Hindustan Aeronautics Ltd (HAL) and Aeronautical Development Agency (ADA).

The decision, likely to be made official by the Ministry of Defence (MoD) soon, is aimed at ending the blame game over the project delay, often being played out by the stake-holders of the flagship ‘Make in India’ project.

Military sources confirmed to Onmanorama that the idea of an IAF official being given the command and control of Tejas programme has been floating around for some time now.

As per a proposal being mooted, the IAF might depute an officer of an Air Marshal rank to head the Tejas project.

The head of LCA Division, currently an officer at Executive Director level and Program Director of ADA, an H-level scientist, may then report to him, if the plans take off smoothly.

Ramping up the Tejas production will be based on a SPV (Special Purpose Vehicle) model or a SBU (Strategic Business Unit) model.

“The government wants to bring HAL and ADA together. IAF needs Tejas in large numbers and the only way to achieve this is through a fresh look to overcome delays. The balance of convenience in this case will have to rest with the IAF,” says an official.

“The structural gap between HAL and ADA, a prime cause of Tejas delay, has to be bridged and we feel IAF can do it,” he adds.

With Tejas yet to be given the Final Operational Clearance (FOC) which will make it a complete fighting machine, the IAF has been waiting in the wings to ‘strike’ at both HAL and ADA.

“The FOC deadlines have slipped many times and it is unlikely that ADA will tick off the pending points even by December 2018. HAL has promised defence minister that it would deliver 16 aircraft this year (2018-19). The IAF will now get to infuse new ideas to ramp up the production,” the official added.

If HAL sticks to the promise, it will have to deliver seven fighters (SP-10 to SP-16) from the initial operation clearance (IOC) block and nine from the FOC block (SP-21 to SP-29).

As reported by Onmanorama, the IAF-HAL stalemate over trainers continues, which will delay the delivery of first set of trainer from the IOC block (SP-17 to SP-20).