20th February 2019 is a significant day in the journey of Light Combat Aircraft Tejas MK I for Indian Air Force (IAF), when the formal declaration of Final Operational Clearance (FOC) of the aircraft was made by Secretary Defence R&D and Chairman DRDO Dr G Satheesh Reddy.
The day also witnessed the handing over of FOC Certificate and Release to Service Document (RSD) to the Chief of Air Staff Air Chief Marshal BS Dhanoa, in the presence of Defence Secretary Shri Sanjay Mitra and Chairman and Managing Director of Hindustan Aeronautics Limited Shri R Madhavan.
FOC involves addition of key capabilities to the Initial Operational Clearance (IOC) aircraft which are Beyond Visual Range Missile capabilities. Air-to-Air Refuelling, Air-to-Ground FOC earmarked weapons and general flight envelope expansion.
The RSD provides the capabilities, features and technologies that FOC standard Aircraft will have on Induction into IAF. The FOC standard Aircraft drawings have already been handed over to Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL) to start production after incorporating key changes over the IOC standard Aircraft.
Initial Operational Clearance (IOC) of the aircraft took place in the year 2013 and IOC standard Aircraft were inducted into IAF No. 45 Squadron, in July 2016. The IAF Squadron has since flown over
1500 sorties successfully on the Aircraft. It is a proud day for all the agencies involved in the design, development and production of the aircraft i.e., Aeronautical Development Agency (ADA), the autonomous society of DRDO as the design agency and Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL) as the manufacturer.
Many other DRDO laboratories like ADE, GTRE, LRDE, CEMILAC etc., as well as other agencies such as BEL, CSIR, DG-AQA, and Private sector agencies have contributed in the journey of LCA.