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HAL’s LCA MK 1A aircraft to be ready by 2022: CMD HAL

PW Bureau

Defence firm’s announcement came one day after the Light Combat Aircraft (LCA) programme was given its final clearance for operations and certified as combat ready for the ongoing Aero India show 2019

Bengaluru: The Light Combat Aircraft Mk 1A, an upgraded version of its flagship Tejas aircraft, is expected to ready for its first flight by 2022, Hindustan Aeronautics Ltd (HAL) said on Thursday. The move quashes questions on the state-run aviation company’s ability to keep up production pace on a par with the Indian defence’s growing demands.

The defence firm’s announcement came one day after the Light Combat Aircraft (LCA) programme was given its final clearance for operations and certified as combat ready for the ongoing Aero India, the five-day air show in the outskirts of Bengaluru.

HAL to fund use own funds

“The first flight of the LCA Mk1A will happen in 2022," R. Madhavan, chairman and managing director of the company, said on Thursday. HAL plans to take up development of the aircraft using its own funds even as the company has not yet received an order from the Indian Air Force, he added.

The proposal for 83 LCA Mk 1A is with the ministry currently and is expected to be finalised in the upcoming months.

The new announcement will help relieve HAL from pressure following the negativity surrounding the political battle between the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and the Congress over the French-made Rafale fighter jets.

Congress' allegation

The Congress claims that Prime Minister Narendra Modi administration diverted the production deal of Rafale from HAL to serve corporate interests.

Reliance Infrastructure Ltd, led by businessman Anil Ambani, has a 51:49 joint venture with Dassault called Dassault Reliance Aerospace Ltd, which has an offset contract of about Rs 30,000 crore for the 36 Rafale aircraft.