Media reports in India remind me that it has been one year
since the Hindustan Aeronautics Ltd. (HAL) Tejas Light Combat Aircraft achieved
initial operation capability. At Aero
India last year Tejas was one of the stars of the air show. After two decades
of delays and problems officials were optimistic about India’s most ambitious
programme since the HAL Marut in the 1950s and 1960s.
One year and over 240 flight tests later, Indian media reports
suggest the aircraft is nowhere near achieving final operation clearance and
that the Indian Air Force is no fan.
Indeed, one analyst I spoke to before Aero India told me that the Tejas
represented “a victory for the guys in lab coats over the guys in flight
What’s more, the Naval Tejas also seems stuck. After being rolled out in mid-2010 the
first flight was scheduled for 2011. The Indian Navy told me in mid-2011 that a
first flight was due in September or October, but this never materialised.
Perhaps 2012 will be brighter, with more tests for Tejas as
well as a first flight for the naval variant.
Could a final operational clearance be forthcoming before Aero India