Defence Minister Rajnath Singh on Thursday (September 19) flew in the Tejas fighter aircraft from the HAL airport in Bengaluru, becoming the first defence minister to fly in the indigenously-built light combat aircraft (LCA).
Wearing a G suit, the minister buckled himself in the seat behind the pilot in the aircraft. He was accompanied by Air Vice Marshal N Tiwari, who is also the Project Director, National Flight Test Centre, ADA (Aeronautical Development Agency) in Bengaluru.
He went on a 30-minute sortie in the light combat aircraft. After he was done, he said that he had enjoyed his sortie very much, as quoted by ANI. “I want to congratulate HAL, DRDO and several concerned agencies. We have reached a level where we can export fighter planes across the world. Countries in South East Asia have shown interest in purchasing Tejas aircraft.”
“It was very smooth and comfortable. One of the most memorable events of my life,” he added.
A Defence Ministry official had said on Wednesday (September 18) that the minister would be “taking a sortie” in order to boost the morale of officers who have been involved in the development of the “indigenously-made Tejas”. “It will also boost the morale of IAF pilots who are flying these aircraft,” the official had said.
In a tweet, Singh said, “The G-Suite and Tejas: It was a memorable experience. Thank you @IAF_MCC @HALHQBLR & @DRDO_India for this proud moment. Special thanks to AVM, N.Tiwari, who is also the Project Director, National Flight Test Centre, ADA (Aeronautical Development Agency) for the sortie.”
Special thanks to AVM, N.Tiwari, who is also the Project Director, National Flight Test Centre, ADA (Aeronautical Development Agency) for the sortie. pic.twitter.com/8F2tXh7dle
— Rajnath Singh (@rajnathsingh) September 19, 2019
The IAF has already inducted a batch of Tejas aircraft. The naval version of the LCA is in development stage.
Last Friday in Goa, Tejas had successfully carried out an “arrested landing”, a key performance, demonstrating its ability to land on board an aircraft carrier, making it a major milestone in development of the naval variant of the fighter jet.
On Thursday, Singh would also be attending an exhibition of products of the Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) in Bengaluru.
Initially, the IAF had placed an order with the Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL) for 40 Tejas aircraft. Last year, the IAF issued the request for proposal (RFP) to HAL for the procurement of another batch of 83 Tejas at a cost of over ₹50,000 crore.
The Tejas is an indigenous light weight, multi role supersonic aircraft developed in both fighter and trainer versions. Advanced materials like composites are used in the manufacture of the Tejas to reduce weight and increase the component life.
The Tejas is designed to carry a veritable plethora of air-to-air, air-to- surface, precision guided and standoff weaponry.
(With inputs from agencies)