SOURCE: TUSHKAR SHIRODKAR / FOR MY TAKE / IDRW.ORG
It’s more or less confirmed now that the final freeze of Final Operational Certification (FOC) standard has happened on last working day of 2018, and HAL will produce and complete first flight of FOC Standard SP-21 in October this year. HAL already started working on SP-21 from 2018 and the air-frame will soon move to final assembly jig where it will be getting new equipment which was demanded in FOC Standard which includes In-flight refueling probe and upgraded mission computer software which will allow pilots improved flight regimes.
HAL has promised that it will deliver last Single seater SP-16 by end of March this year and SP-21 later in October this year. SP-17 to SP-20 will be IOC-II Standard LCA-Tejas Trainer aircraft which now will be clubbed with SP-37 to SP-40 and will be produced last after completion of single seater’s in FOC Standards.
IAF which ordered 40 LCA-Tejas Mk-1 aircraft in batches of Twenty aircrafts each in IOC-II Standards and FOC Standards were made up of 16 single Seaters and 4 Twin-seater Trainers from each batch, but due to the late design freezing of Twin-seater Trainers by ADA and IAF, All 8 Twin-seater Trainers will now be manufactured last after delivery completion of all single seaters.
IAF is likely to place orders for 83 upgraded Tejas Mk-1A aircraft soon which will also have 10 Twin-seater Trainers all equipped with latest upgrades. HAL already has proposed IAF for separate contract to upgrade all IOC-II Standards LCA-Tejas Mk-1 aircraft to FOC Standard aircraft which will include installation of In-flight refueling probe along with all FOC standard equipment.