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Photo: AP


Delayed Brilliance
The IAF showcases India’s most powerful fighter jet for the first time, after a good 31 years in the making

The Indian Air Force (IAF) on its 84th Foundation Day at the Hindon air base, on the outskirts of New Delhi, showcased the indigenously built Tejas light combat aircraft, marking the coveted fighter jet’s first fly-past.  Developed by the state-owned Hindustan Aeronautics, the  single-seat, single-jet engine, multi-role light fighter has been designed by the Aeronautical Development Agency for the IAF and the Navy. The jet has a maximum speed of 1,370 miles or 2,204 kms per hour, making it apt for dogfights and has stealth-like characteristics with a reduced radar signature. The LCA boasts of a beyond visual range missile firing capability and can carry laser-guided 500kg bombs and short-range R-73 missiles.  While the IAF is looking at inducting 200 single-seat fighters and 20 twin-seat trainers, the navy is inducting 40 single-seat fighters. But what takes the sheen away from the LCA is that the project has been under development since 1985 and, even after 31 years, full fledged induction and production timelines are still not clear.

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