(NSI News Source Info) NEW DELHI - January 29, 2009: The Indian Defence Ministry has short-listed EADS on a $20 million contract to aid in the flight trials of the indigenous Light Combat Aircraft (LCA). The deal is expected to be signed during Aero India 2009, from Feb. 11-14 at Bangalore, said a senior Defence Ministry official. The HAL Tejas is a lightweight multirole fighter aircraft developed by India. It is a tailless, compound delta wing design powered by a single engine. Originally known as the Light Combat Aircraft (LCA) – a designation which continues in popular usage – the aircraft was officially named "Tejas"., by then Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee on 4 May 2003. Limited series production of the Tejas commenced in 2007; it is currently projected to achieve limited initial operational clearance (IOC) with the Indian Air Force (IAF) by 2008, followed by full operational clearance (FOC) by the end of 2010. A two-seat trainer variant is also in development (exited the production line as of November 2008), as is a naval variant capable of operating from the Indian Navy's aircraft carriers. The IAF is reported to have a requirement for 200 single-seat and 20 two-seat conversion trainers, while the Indian Navy may order up to 40 single-seaters to replace its Sea Harrier FRS.51 and Harrier T.60. The LCA naval variant is expected to take to the skies by 2009. India's Aeronautical Development Agency, which designed, developed and monitors the LCA, had sought overseas partners to carry out design-and-development work in the flight-testing stage. The consulting company would help speed the flight testing through initial operational clearance and final operational clearance. Technical and commercial bids had been invited from EADS, Saab of Sweden, Dassault of France, Boeing and Lockheed Martin of the United States, and MiG Corp. of Russia. LCA development areas that EADS would aid include flight envelope expansion; flight testing for high angle of attack; aero database validation; external stores carriage with emphasis on stores separation modeling and testing; wake modeling and penetration flight tests; and refinements to existing simulation models. LCA is preparing to enter into the weapon-integration stage, and the first aircraft are expected to be inducted into the Air Force by 2010, nearly 15 years behind schedule. The Air Force has ordered 20 LCAs valued at more than $500 million. State-owned Hindustan Aeronautics is expected to roll out eight aircraft annually. The aim of the current flight trial program is to achieve initial operational clearance with the multimode radar integrated with a weapon suite. It could take three years and about 1,500 hours of flight testing to move into final operational clearance. Eight limited series production aircraft, along with two technical demonstrators and five prototypes, are part of the LCA's design-and-development program. The LCA is a single-seat, single-engine, supersonic multirole air superiority fighter jet designed for air-to-air, air-to-ground and air-to-sea combat roles.
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