LIGHT COMBAT Aircraft (LCA) Tejas Wednesday successfully fired the ASTRA indigenous Beyond Visual Range (BVR) air-to-air missile off the coast of Goa, a day after IAF Chief Air Chief Marshal V R Chaudhari reviewed the status of the LCA programme in Air Headquarters.
A defence ministry statement said the missile release was successfully carried out from the aircraft at an altitude of about 20,000 ft. “All the objectives of the test were met and it was a perfect text book launch,” the statement said.
ASTRA is a state-of-the-art BVR air-to-air missile to engage and destroy highly maneuvering supersonic aerial targets. It is designed and developed by Defence Research and Development Laboratory (DRDL), Research Centre Imarat (RCI) and other laboratories of DRDO.
The test launch was monitored by the Test Director and scientists of Aeronautical Development Agency (ADA), Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO), Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL) along with officials from Centre for Military Airworthiness and Certification (CEMILAC) and Directorate General of Aeronautical Quality Assurance (DG-AQA), the statement said, adding that the aircraft was also monitored by a Chase Tejas twin-seater aircraft.
Complimenting all agencies involved in the successful launch of the missile, Defence Minister Rajnath Singh said the launch would significantly enhance the combat prowess of Tejas and reduce the dependency on imported weapons.
At the review of the LCA programme on Tuesday, Air Chief Marshal Chaudhari said the LCA has been the flag bearer of the Indian Air Force’s (IAF) efforts towards indigenisation of its aircraft fleet.
He said that given the nature of this project of national importance, it is required that all stakeholders adopt a collaborative approach towards its success.
During the review, it was brought out that all contracted fighter variants of the LCA Mk 1 had been delivered to the IAF.
After the LCA Mk 1, 83 LCA Mk-1A aircraft have also been contracted by the IAF in 2021.
The Chairman & Managing Director of HAL assured those present that the deliveries of this advanced variant of the LCA would begin by February 2024, to which Air Chief Marshal Chaudhari indicated that the LCA Mk 1A could be inducted in a newly raised squadron in one of the IAF’s operational bases, early next year.
“With timely deliveries of the more capable variant, the LCA Mk 1A is likely to see increased deployments at forward bases, besides participation in International exercises in the days to come,” a government statement started.