Wednesday, January 1, 2003, Chandigarh, India


M A I N   N E W S

4 LCA squadrons likely by 2015
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, December 31
India is likely to get its first Light Combat Aircraft (LCA), which is being considered as one of the most advanced fighter aircraft, by 2010 with as many as four squadrons likely to be inducted into the Air Force by 2015.

While gearing up for the future technology by starting research on “smart soldier”, who would be fully and personally self sufficient for any kind of warfare, and working on “smart materials”, Defence Research Development Organisation (DRDO), country’s premier Defence organisation, is confident of rolling out the best Defence equipment for the country which would include AWACS, greenpine radars, 3D radars and even laser as a weapon and direct energy weapons.

Speaking to the media on the eve of the DRDO day, the Scientific Adviser to the Defence Minister and chief of the DRDO, Dr V.K. Aatre, while attributing a majority share of the DRDO success in the past few years to the involvement of private sector in various projects expressed the desire for greater involvement of private manufacturers in the Defence sector.

He put on offer the technology developed by the DRDO for the use by private sector but with a rider that it would only be used for the benefit of the country. Listing the success of Pinaka, the multi-barrel rocket launcher, as the single biggest achievement of the DRDO in 2002, Dr Aatre ruled out suggestions that the DRDO was a ‘white elephant’. He added that with the 2,500-km longer range surface to surface missile Agni-II becoming operational, India was likely to conduct more tests on the 600-km range Agni-I missile in the next few weeks.

He said during the year the DRDO had achieved major breakthrough with its low-level UAV Nishant clearing all tests and pilot-less target aircraft Lakshya on successful development being inducted into the IAF and the Navy.

Dr Aatre said the LCA’s first technology demonstrator flight would complete 48 flight schedules today, while the second would start doing sorties shortly afterwards. The third aircraft would be operational by the middle of next year.

The LCA would complete 200 hours of test-flying by next year as against 2,000 hours it had to complete before initial induction. He said by the middle of next year, the aircraft would reach supersonic speed and between 2010 and 2015, the IAF would have four operational squadrons of the LCA.

Elaborating on the LCA, Dr Aatre said to accelerate the pace of development and flight trials, five more prototypes were being built with the aircraft planned to be inducted into the IAF after initial operational clearance in 2005-06.

For the first time, Dr Aatre said as part of the electronic warfare equipment the organisation had developed remote mine-sensing radars called as Safari and packed them into vehicles. It has also developed Sujav directional finder and communication jamming radars. Almost 200 units of it had even been delivered to the Army and the paramilitary forces. Army had ordered for 500 Safaris after successful field trials.


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