On December 20, 2013, in a major milestone in the country’s military aviation, after three decades of development, the indigenous supersonic combat aircraft LCA Tejas received the Initial Operational Clearance (IOC) paving the way for its series production for the Indian Air Force. At a ceremony at HAL Bangalore presided over by Defence Minister A.K. Antony, the Chief of the Air Staff (CAS) Air Chief Marshal N.A.K Browne accepted the ‘Release Service Document’ in respect of the aircraft signifying formal induction of the first aircraft into the IAF.
In his address, the CAS said, “This day marks a historic milestone and signifies India’s entry into a select group of nations capable of designing their own state-of-the-art fighter aircraft.” In his address, the Minister of Defence defined end 2014 as the deadline for the Final Operational Clearance (FOC). HAL has set up production facilities at Bangalore and plans for to produce eight aircraft per year eventually doubling the rate to 16. As per initial plans, The IAF will receive two squadrons of the Tejas Mk I followed by four squadrons of the Tejas Mk II. The first squadron will be based at Air Force Station Sulur near Coimbatore.