Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL) recently has commenced the Main Airframe Fatigue Test (MAFT) of Light Combat Aircraft Mk1.
About Main Airframe Fatigue Test (MAFT):
This test is required to demonstrate the capability of the airframe to withstand four times the service life. This is as per the military airworthiness requirements.
According to HAL, these tests will be carried out over a period of eight to nine years on the LCA (Air Force) Mk1 airframe.
Once the MAFT tests are carried out successfully, the LCA (Air Force) Mk1 airframe is then fit for its full-service life.
Who plans the tests?
The test plan and schedule for the MAFT has been jointly arrived at by the designers from the HAL and scientists from the Aeronautical Development Agency (ADA) in coordination with the Regional Centre for Military Airworthiness (RCMA), CEMILAC.
What is the LCA development project?
HAL expects to deliver all Final Operational Clearance (FOC) variant aircraft to the Indian Air Force (IAF) in 2022 pending some systems from Israel, while the LCA-MK1A is expected to take flight in June this year.
There is another 20 to 24 months of testing after which deliveries would begin with manufacturing activities going parallel to the testing.
The Light Combat Aircraft (LCA)-Tejas was conceptualised in the year 1984.
Since the first flight of the LCA technology demonstrator in January 2001, the indigenous single engine 4.5 generation multi-role fighter jet christened as ‘Tejas’ by then Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee in May 2003.
It has come a long way both in terms of the maturity of the platform as well as the overall aircraft development programme despite repeated delays and cost overuns.
In all, 123 LCA aircraft of various configurations are on order so far.