The LCA is a landmark aspect in the space history of India. India achieved a major break through in January 2001, when its first indigenous supersonic state of the art Light Combat Aircraft (LCA) smoothly looks off on its maiden flight.
Sanctioned in 1983, the LCA project has been completed much behind the schedule. As against the original cost of Rs. 560 crore, the project is actually expected to cost over Rs. 3,000 crore.
The LCA is expected to be tested with indigenous Kaveri engine in the year 2005 and its induction in the India Air Force is expected to take place somewhere in the year 2010-2012. At the rate of current planning the total gestation period of the project is 32 years, which is a bit too long when compared to the global standard. The LCA is an advanced technology, single seat and single engine aircraft that have supersonic speed. It has the characteristics of being lightweight, all-weather multi-role aircraft, which is certain to give any air force air superiority over the enemy.
The LCA is designed for air-to-air (fighter), air-to-ground (bomber) and air-to sea (long-rang) combat roles. The LCA project has been causing debate in some circles in India and other countries. Non-believers have termed the project as a non-starter.
The successful first flight in January, 2001, however, put the debate to an end, as the tested LCA met all the parameters, including the limited speed of 450 km per hour and maneuvers tests. Other state-of-the-art configurations include quadruple fly by wire digital flight control system, integrated avionics with glass cockpit, advanced composite materials for primary structures and a novel utility systems management system.