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Tejas, attack chopper make international debut
Ajay Banerjee/TNS

Tejas takes off. —  PTIBangalore, February 9
India’s stated thrust on indigenisation of military equipment got a major boost today as two of its latest products took to the skies to perform in front of an international audience comprising pilots, engineers and manufacturers.

Light Combat Aircraft Tejas and the Light Combat Helicopter displayed flight manoeuvres in the sky over the IAF’s Yelahanka air base to mark the opening of Aero India, 2011, this morning. The fighter and the chopper were the “stars” of the day even as one of the best fighter aircraft in the world was also on display here.

Tejas was inducted into the Air Force last month, while the attack chopper undertook its first test-flight in March last year and is slated for induction in the armed forces in 2012.

Tejas, having a top speed of 1.6 mach, cannot match the superior fighter aircraft on display here in terms of pyrotechnics, weapon suites or radars, but it did make an impact at its first international show. Foreign pilots and engineers took note of its agility, turning radius as Tejas did “loops” and “vertical climbs”.

In line with Defence Minister AK Antony’s dream of having a “made in India” stamp on all defence products, the DRDO is now ready with the upgraded version of Tejas, called LCA-mark II. It will have a more powerful engine, GE 414 instead of GE 404, besides better avionics. “It will be inducted in 2015,” Antony said minutes after seeing Tejas perform.

He said the medium combat aircraft was being planned in twin-engine configuration and the project had been okayed. He said, “We are happy as our own planes are flying at Aero India.” Antony, whose stated goal is to decrease foreign dependence, said, “Today we are producing state-of-the-art equipment. We have technology that is matured enough.” The IAF has already ordered 40 Tejas aircraft.

After Tejas, the low-flying black-coloured attack choppers made their international debut. Both Tejas and the chopper have been developed by Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL).

The chopper has “Shakti” engine, co-developed by HAL and French company Turbomeca. It is an attack variant of Dhruv, which has been already inducted into the armed forces. The chopper has helmet-mounted targeting system, electronic warfare system and advanced weapon system.

It has glass cockpit with multifunction displays, a target acquisition and designation system with laser-based range-finder and designator fitted with data link for network-centric operations, facilitating transfer of data to other airborne platforms and ground stations.





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