Indigenously developed fighter aircraft Light Combat Aircraft (LCA) LSP-7 Tejas, successfully fired the indigenously developed Beyond Visual Range (BVR) air-to-air missile ASTRA off the coast of Goa on August 23, 2023.
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).
LCA Tejas is a 4.5 generation, all weather and multi-role fighter aircraft. The aircraft is designed to be a multi-role aircraft capable of taking up offensive air support, close combat and ground attack roles at ease. It is the lightest, smallest and tailless multi-role supersonic fighter aircraft in its class. It is being developed for use by both the Indian Airforce and the Indian Navy.
The programme to develop a fighter aircraft for the Indian Air Force (IAF) was started by the government of India in 1984 with the setting up of Aeronautical Development Agency (ADA)under Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO). The programme was named as Light Combat Aircraft or LCA.
The Light Combat Aircraft was renamed as Tejas in 2003 by the government .
The historic maiden flight of the first Technology Demonstrator (TD1) of LCA took place on January 04, 2001. The aircraft has been manufactured by Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL) . It was inducted in the Indian Airforce on 1 July 2016.
The first IAF Squadron to induct the Tejas was No 45 Squadron, the 'Flying Daggers'.In May 2020, No 18 Squadron became the second IAF unit to operate the Tejas.
Two variants of Tejas have been approved by the government of India . The MK-1A variant is already under production and the Indian Air Force has given an order for 83 LCA Mk-1A . The MK1A variant intends to replace the ageing fleet of the Soviet-made MiG-21s.
The government has also approved the development of an advanced version of Tejas MK2 . It is a multirole aircraft more capable and powerful than MK1A. The new MK2 version of Tejas will replace the ageing western-origin Jaguar, Mirage-2000, and the Russian-origin MiG-29s.
ASTRA MK-I Beyond Visual Range (BVR) Air to Air Missile (AAM) has been Indigenously designed and developed by Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO). It has a range upto 110 Km.
It is being manufactured by the public sector company Bharat Dynamics Limited (BDL). The ASTRA missile has been fully integrated on the Su 30 MK-I fighter aircraft. It will also be integrated with Light Combat Aircraft (Tejas) and the Indian Navy will integrate the missile on the MiG 29K fighter aircraft.