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India declares indigenous combat jet a success

india Updated: Feb 02, 2010 23:16 IST

India's defence minister announced on Tuesday that a much-delayed project to build an indigenous supersonic combat aircraft was a success.

The jets are intended to become the country's frontline combat plane by 2020.

AK Antony told reporters the Light Combat Aircraft (LCA) -- billed by India as the world's smallest warjet -- would be cleared for limited flights by the end of 2010.

"Today I can declare that at last the LCA is going to be a reality," Antony said in Bangalore where the locally built plane had been on the design board since 1983 when the multi-billion dollar project began.

The minister said the aircraft, powered by engines supplied by US-based General Electrics, would be ready for full induction into the military by 2012.

"All the doubting Thomases have proved to be wrong," Antony said, referring to sceptics who doubted that the combat jet would ever take off.

Antony said the Indian Air Force had already placed an initial order for 20 of the jets.

Although the first LCA prototype rolled out in 1995, the project hit an air pocket three years later when the United States and other Western governments slapped a slew of sanctions on India in retaliation for its 1998 nuclear tests.

The LCA won the nickname "last chance aircraft" because of the delays.

India's first attempt in the 1950s to make an indigenous fighter plane failed after it built a limited number of ground attack planes that fell far short of military specifications.
India's defence minister announced on Tuesday that a much-delayed project to build an indigenous supersonic combat aircraft was a success.

The jets are intended to become the country's frontline combat plane by 2020.

AK Antony told reporters the Light Combat Aircraft (LCA) -- billed by India as the world's smallest warjet -- would be cleared for limited flights by the end of 2010.

"Today I can declare that at last the LCA is going to be a reality," Antony said in Bangalore where the locally built plane had been on the design board since 1983 when the multi-billion dollar project began.

The minister said the aircraft, powered by engines supplied by US-based General Electrics, would be ready for full induction into the military by 2012.

"All the doubting Thomases have proved to be wrong," Antony said, referring to sceptics who doubted that the combat jet would ever take off.

Antony said the Indian Air Force had already placed an initial order for 20 of the jets.

Although the first LCA prototype rolled out in 1995, the project hit an air pocket three years later when the United States and other Western governments slapped a slew of sanctions on India in retaliation for its 1998 nuclear tests.

The LCA won the nickname "last chance aircraft" because of the delays.

India's first attempt in the 1950s to make an indigenous fighter plane failed after it built a limited number of ground attack planes that fell far short of military specifications.