BENGALURU, India — The Indian air force (IAF) has begun preparations to form the first Tejas Light Combat Aircraft squadron here.
The No. 45 Sqdn. will be known as the Flying Daggers (the same as MiG-21/MiG-21BIS squadron).
Air Cmdr. B.R. Krishna, chief test pilot at the Aircraft Systems Testing Establishment (ASTE), tells Aviation Week that ASTE has identified two pilots to fly the Tejas as part of the IAF’s user evaluation, following the initial operational clearance (IOC) granted on Jan. 10.
The squadron will be first raised in Bengaluru before moving to Sulur in Coimbatore (in Tamil Nadu, a South Indian state).
The limited series production aircraft LSP-7 and LSP-8 will be used for the evaluation. ASTE hopes to receive the aircraft in the next 3-4 months. “Lot of inputs from the pilots have gone into the Tejas program, especially in the area of cockpit design,” Krishna says. “The cockpit of LSP-5, the last platform that entered the flight line, is the final production mode. Test pilots from ASTE, too, gave their inputs.”
Military sources confirm that ASTE test pilot Wing Cmdr. Paranjal Singh and flight-test engineer Wing Cmdr. Manish Kumar have been chosen to perform the user evaluation. The two pilots will also work with the Tejas simulator at the Aeronautical Development Establishment, as well as with various teams from the Aeronautical Development Agency (ADA) and Hindustan Aeronautics Ltd. (HAL).
With the IAF readying to form the squadron, the onus now shifts to ADA and HAL to proceed from IOC to the final operational clearance phase.