India’s air force has taken delivery of its first two-seat trainer example of the Tejas light combat aircraft (LCA) from Hindustan Aeronautics (HAL).
Handed over during a ceremony at HAL’s Bengaluru production site on 4 October, the aircraft sports the registration LT5201.
The new type will “ensure smooth transition for the pilots from trainer to fighter aircraft in this class”, says HAL chairman C.B. Ananthakrishnan.
“The development of LCA Tejas has brought about a shift in our approach to defence procurement. It has demonstrated that India has the talent, knowledge and capability to design, develop and manufacture world-class fighters,” says minister of state for defence Ajay Bhatt.
Also speaking at the delivery event, chief of the air staff Air Chief Marshal V.R. Chaudhari said his service will eventually field a total of 220 Tejas aircraft, including 97 to be acquired via a pending deal.
Cirium fleets data shows that the Indian air force currently has 32 Tejas fighters in service, with another 91 on order.
HAL says it plans to deliver all on-order twin-seaters before the end of its current financial year: Cirium lists eight examples as to be fielded.