25 Oct : Dispelling doubts over the viability of the indigenous Light Combat Aircraft (LCA), India on Saturday said the project was very much on track and there was no question of abandoning the programme, which would be completed by 2011.
"I can tell you with all confidence by end of 2010, the LCA is expected to get its full operational clearance and by 2011, I am sure IAF will be able to get the first delivery of the aircraft," Defence Minister A K Antony told reporters in Banglore, after reviewing the performance of the blue-chip Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL).
"There is no question of abandoning of the LCA project," Antony said, promising that the IAF would get a total of 70 Tejas for its proposed seven squadrons.
Noting that DRDO’s Aeronautical Development agency-designed LCA project was being hotly debated along with the Arjun Main Battle Tank for the delays in design and development, the Defence Minister said despite the delay of over 26 years – the project was launched in 1982 – LCA was at last becoming a reality. "It is a success," he said defending the LCA project.
"I have discussed the LCA’s progress with the officials of HAL, IAF and from the Defence Ministry and they are all happy with its functioning," he added.
He said initially, the IAF would get delivery of 20 LCAs for one of its two squadrons to be raised by 2011 and as a follow-on order, the IAF would raise five more squadrons.
In all probability, the first two squadrons would be based in Sulur air base near Coimbatore in Tamil Nadu.