LCA Division of State-owned Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL) recently achieved a standardized assembly process for the LCA-Tejas production line for its Final Operational Clearance (FOC) manufactured LCA-Tejas fighter jets as requested by IAF so that no two aircraft are different in terms of capabilities and systems installed but also has Interchangeability (ICY) of parts to ease maintenance woes.

IAF had demanded that certain components from the airframe and internal electricals, mechanicals, or Cosmetic parts should be Interchangeable and that it can be replaced at a base level workshop of the Squadron where the aircraft are operational. Interchangeable parts are parts (components) that are, for practical purposes, identical. They are made to specifications that ensure that they are so nearly the same as the ones they are replacing.

Till now, LCA-Tejas came out in different configurations which meant no two aircraft were identical especially with Limited Serial Production (LSP) aircraft and earlier Prototypes but the situation improved on 16 Initial Operational Configuration (IOC) aircraft which are part of the first LCA-Tejas squadrons but there still existed small variations but With FOC configurations IAF was adamant that all aircraft coming out are standardized with all Interchangeable parts and components due to which IAF delayed taking deliveries of FOC LCA-Tejas aircraft after the first one was delivered earlier this year.

Interchangeable parts also ensure that no aircraft are grounded due to small non-technical issues like a damaged landing gear door or cracked airframe panel that can be borrowed from other existing aircraft or can be borrowed from another base-level squadron workshop which has the surplus stocks and Squadron doesn’t have to wait for the manufacturer to ship the said panel leading to weeks of grounding of the aircraft.

With FOC Tejas Mk1 coming with the same standardized assembly process and Interchangeable parts will mean, that the same principle is also followed in the production of the 83 Tejas Mk1A which are in the pipeline since they will also come with the same airframe and panels with few upgrades to the radar and avionics.

IAF wants to achieve 75% Operational Availability criteria for the entire LCA-Tejas fleet when they are inducted in large numbers for that standardized assembly process and Interchangeable parts had to be achieved from the start so that streamlining of spares and components becomes less cumbersome when they are deputed all over India and also help lower the cost of the maintenance of this jets and also reduce unnecessary grounding of aircraft.

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