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Tejas LCA takes to skies at supersonic speed

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Tejas LSP-4 during its first flight at Bangalore airport on Wednesday. PTI Photo

NEW DELHI (PTI): India's Light Combat Aircraft (LCA) programme has achieved a significant milestone when the fourth of the Limited Series Production aircraft flew at supersonic speed during its maiden flight in the configuration to be delivered to the Indian Air Force.

“This is a significant achievement for us as for the first time the LSP aircraft has gone supersonic in its maiden flight,” Aeronautical Development Agency Director P Subramanyam told PTI over phone on Wednesday.

This was also the first time when 'Tejas' has flown in the configuration that will be finally delivered to the IAF, Defence Ministry officials said.

Under the LCA programme, DRDO will build eight LSPs to develop and prove the capabilities of the combat aircraft.

The first 40-minute flight of the aircraft LSP-4 took place at the Hindustan Aeronautics Limited airport in Bangalore on Wednesday, Defence Ministry officials said here.

“The aircraft took off at 1110 hours and landed 40 minutes later. The Test Pilot, Group Captain Suneet Krishna, flew the aircraft to an attitude of 11 kms and went supersonic, touching 1.1 Mach speed,” they added.

The sortie was being followed at the National Flight Test Centre (NFTC) from its telemetry facility and the chase aircraft was flown by NFTC Chief Test Pilot Gp Capt R R Tyagi with Wing Commander Prabhu as the Test Director.

Subramanyam said the Tejas team will now head towards central India to carry out the hot weather trials of the aircraft.

Senior scientists from ADA, National Aerospace Laboratory and Aeronautical Development Establishment were involved in the development and flight test planning for the newly integrated flight control software which was used by the test aircraft Wednesday.

Working on the programme since 80s, the DRDO is planning to get the Initial Operational Clearance (IOC) for the Tejas by 2011, Final Operational Clearance by 2012 and to get the aircraft ready for induction into the IAF by early 2014.

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