Coming down heavily on it for delays in the Light Combat Aircraft (LCA) project,Defence Minister AK Antony has told the Defence Research and Development Organisation that there is a limit to slippages and asked it to ensure the fighter is ready for induction by next year.
The project,which has been in the works for decades,is a sore point between the Air Force and the developers due to delays and below par performance.
While the fighter was scheduled to join service last decade,it is still to complete its initial operational clearance (IOC).
Warning that the organisation needs to perform or perish,Antony told top DRDO scientists at an award ceremony that the project should now be their top priority and should achieve its IOC by the end of this year and final clearances by the end of 2014.
He stressed the need to develop indigenous weapon systems and reduce dependence on imports,given recent developments,in an apparent reference to the VVIP chopper deal scandal.
The Defence Minister later dodged questions whether completion of the LCA project by next year would impact the ongoing plan to procure 126 Rafale jets from France. IAF Chief NAK Browne,however,said there is no connection between the two projects.