Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) chief Avinash Chander conducted a day-long review of the Light Combat Aircraft (LCA) Tejas programme on Friday. To pull out the programme from delays, the DRDO chief has now decided to form a quick reaction team (QRT) for achieving the Initial Operational Clearance (IOC-2) by September this year.
The missile man said that the country’s long-awaited dream to have a desi-built fighter jet officially don the Squadron colours is now at a striking distance.
“I have not come to Bangalore with a magic wand. I wanted to see that the design agency (Aeronautical Development Agency) and the production unit (Hindustan Aeronautics Ltd) work closely to see that IOC-2 is achieved at the earliest. The QRT is being formed to handle all concerns without any more delays,” Chander told Express.
Confirming that the project has entered the IOC-2 mission mode, Chander said that HAL and ADA are left with no option but to sit together and sort out all issues across the table.
“I told both teams that they will have to be like battlefield soldiers. They will have to anticipate the problems and be alert all the time. I am a strong believer in transparent action and ADA will spearhead the QRT with efficient members drawn from all constituents of Tejas project,” the Scientific Adviser to the Defence Minister said.
He said the idea of QRT was to ensure that no Tejas aircraft from the current test line should be idle for want of attention, a term technically called as AOG (Aircraft on Ground). He said a Chief Controller at the DRDO HQ would monitor the progress of Tejas as it achieves IOC-2. “I have decided to make available all knowledgeable resources in DRDO so that the September deadline is met,” he said.
Satisfied with the new production facilities being set up in HAL for Tejas, Avinash said the jig fixtures and documentation process are almost in place.
“HAL is definitely making an effort to improve their processes. I saw a commitment from both ADA and HAL to step up their work philosophies and approach in dealing with delays. It took 30 years for Akash Missile Systems to be inducted but today we have a work order worth Rs 30,000 crore. Technologies need to matured, and there’s no short-cut to it,” he said.
When asked about the widespread allegation and media reports that cracks have already appeared in ADA-HAL combine, the DRDO boss said: “So far, I have been making missiles to destroy aircraft. And, now I am focusing on technologies to make an aircraft fly the fighter way, even evading the missiles. Let me stay focused. Problems are there, but we need to overcome them.”