India's prestigious Light Combat Aircraft (LCA) Tejas programme logged an impressive milestone completing 1002 flights on Thursday. The sortie lasted about 30 minutes, Aeronautical Development Agency (ADA) sources said here, and was carried out by Group Captain JA Maolankar, chief test pilot of the National Flight Test Centre.
The Tejas Light Combat Aircraft took off for its first flight on 4 January 2001 in a sortie that lasted 18 minutes. The flight was carried out by the very first Tejas aircraft called the Technology Demonstrator-1 (TD-1). The programme has come a long way since.
"That the programme achieved this milestone without any major setbacks bears testimony to the skill and competence of all the programme components. The Tejas team has become a role model for executing large R&D programmes in the country," programme director MS Subramanyam said.
The first phase of the LCA programme (Full Scale Engineering Development-Phase I) was geared towards demonstrating four key technologies like the quadruplex redundant digital fly by wire system, an all-glass cockpit, carbon composite primary structures and microprocessor based control of utility systems.
With its successful completion, the programme is now into Phase-II, the objective of which is to deliver an operationally capable aircraft for induction into the Indian Air Force (IAF) and subsequently into the Indian Navy.
A total of seven aircraft are currently part of the flight test programme.
The Tejas is slated to enter operational service by December 2010 with Initial Operational Clearance.
Speaking to members of "Team Tejas" after the flight, Gp Capt JA Maolankar said: "For a project that has so ambitiously pushed the envelope of indigenous technology, the results have been world-class in many key areas."