An IAF contingent, comprising of two LCA Tejas, a C-130J and one IL-76 aircraft along with 27 officers, 42 air-warriors and 11 HAL personnel, reached Langkawi, Malaysia, at around 1820 hrs (Malaysian) local time on Friday. The contingent received a warm welcome from the Royal Malaysian Air Force (RMAF), Defence Attache Malaysia and other support staffs.

The participating team departed from Air Force Station Kalaikunda for Langkawi and took an air route via Myanmar (Yangon) to reach the foreign grounds. Langkawi International Maritime Aero Expo (LIMA-2019) is to commence in Langkawi, Malaysia from 26 March 2019 to 30 March 2019. Indian Air Force is participating in the Maritime Aero Expo for the first time and there it intends to showcase its indigenously developed young and fiery Multi-Role Supersonic Fighter aircrafts LCA – Tejas.

The participation of IAF in LIMA-2019 will provide an opportunity to air-warriors to interact with their Royal Malaysian Air Force (RMAF) counterparts and foster a close relationship between the two services. This will serve as a foundation for any future interaction with the Malaysian Air Force.

On the sidelines of the expo, it’s also a golden opportunity for RMAF to assess the potentials of LCA – Tejas. India’s Light Combat Aircraft (LCA), together with its variants, is the smallest and lightest Multi-Role Supersonic Fighter Aircraft of its class, thus far. The single-engine, Compound-Delta-Wing, Tailless Aircraft is designed and developed by ADA with HAL as the principal partner along with DRDO, CSIR, BEL, DGAQA, IAF and IN to meet diverse needs of the Indian Air Force (IAF) and the Indian Navy (IN).

Sharing his views, team leader, Grp Captain Karan Hajela IAF said, “A make in India testimony, LCA-Tejas is with us here at LIMA, 19. I am sure the aircraft would make heads turn and will make us feel proud.”

The LCA programme was launched in the early eighties emphasizing two primary purposes. The principal and most obvious goal was the development of a replacement aircraft for India’s long ageing MiG-21 fighters. The MiG-21 had been the mainstay of the Indian Air Force since the 1970s. The other main objective was to give an impetus for an across-the-board advancement of India’s domestic aviation capability.

If we take a closer look at the LCA-Tejas, undoubtedly, Tejas is a pilot’s dream machine and nowhere is this more evident than in her handling qualities and performance characteristics. She rockets off the runway and into the air in a mere 500 meters and her control harmony and carefree handling characteristics are clearly demonstrated in the almost poetic ballet in the air that is the aerobatic display routine. Frugal fuel consumption and inbuilt air refuelling capabilities leave the Tejas with combat legs that will be the envy of many a contemporary platform. A fighter pilot with minimal experience will also be able to handle the Tejas in the air with ease and her small size and exceptional manoeuvrability make the Tejas an opponent that not many will choose to challenge.

The LCA design was finalized in 1990 as a small tail-less delta winged machine with relaxed static stability (RSS) to enhance manoeuvrability and a host of other advanced features. A review committee was formed in May 1989 which reported that Indian infrastructure, facilities and technology had advanced sufficiently in most areas to undertake the project.

The complex geopolitical nature of South Asia and its surroundings have resulted in major conflicts in the region in the past. From the very beginning, after the birth of the nation, India has faced serious military threats. History has taught us that there is a compulsion to achieve self-reliance in design, development and production of critical weapon systems to guard the sovereignty of our nation. LCA- Tejas definitely sets that eureka moment for us within and across the borders.

(The writer is a Delhi-based independent contributor to print and online publications)