The Indian Air Force (IAF) is all set to receive 16 Light Combat Aircraft (LCA) in the final operational clearance (FOC) configuration from Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL) by the end of 2019, according to HAL chairman R Madhavan, reports Aviation International News.
16 HAL LCAs have already been delivered in the Initial operation clearance configuration (IOC), as per Madhavan. The government-owned defence manufacturer is producing eight additional trainer versions.
FOC was given to the LCA last month (February) during the Aero India exhibition in Bengaluru.
For six months now HAL has been seeking the finalisation of an IAF contract for 83 LCA Mk1As to boost its production capacity. Even as the company’s technical bids have already been evaluated, the commercial bids are yet to be processed. Eventually, a formal contract will be signed between HAL and the IAF.
Madhavan stated that he sees the production of the LCA being ramped up in the future considering that HAL only had to provide the integration function going forward as component production had been outsourced to private players.
Following the Vayu Shakti Air Force Exercise in February, Air Chief Marshal B S Dhanoa praised the aircraft’s performance, stating, “It is a fighter jet and behaved like a fighter. It did well both in air-to-air combat, as well as air-to-ground combat.”
He also expressed optimism over future versions of the LCA being inducted into the IAF to replace parts of its fleet. “After that [Mk1A], we should take up LCA Mk2…which in the long term would replace the Jaguar, the Mirage, and MiG-29s,” stated Dhanoa.