The Light Combat Aircraft, Tejas, successfully test fired the Close Combat Missile R-73 on Thursday at the air-to-air range, off Goa coast.
The test marks the beginning of the LCA’s weaponisation programme, which is the focus of the initial operational clearance (IOC) phase. Air-to-Air missile integration and testing on such an aircraft is a very complex task and requires multiple interfaces, defence sources said. The first squadron of the indigenously developed LCA will be inducted into the Indian Air Force (IAF) by 2010.
The main objectives of test firing were to validate the safe separation of the missile from the aircraft, study the effect of missile plume on engine air-intake and test the functionality of store management system (SMS), including the safety interlocks. The test fire also helps assess the handling quality of the aircraft during missile launch
The flight was carried out on the Tejas prototype vehicle PV-1, piloted by the Chief Test Pilot of the National Flight Test Centre ADA, Gp Capt N Harish. The test firing was done at 7 km altitude and 0.6 Mach.
The flight test was conducted from the mobile telemetry vehicle where all the aircraft, systems and weapon data were closely monitored. Quick analysis of the data revealed that it was a ‘text book’ launch, sources said.