‘It will increase our air power’: Army chief flies in HAL-made Tejas
General Rawat took to skies in the Made-in-India light combat aircraft Tejas as a passenger at the Aero India show in Bengaluru.Updated: Feb 21, 2019 16:13 IST
In a first, Army chief General Bipin Rawat took off in Tejas fighter jet for an aerial tour and witness the capability of the light combat aircraft during Aero India 2019 show in Bengaluru on Thursday. General Rawat described the Made-In-India combat jet as a “wonderful aircraft” that will enhance firepower of the Indian Air Force.
“It’s a wonderful aircraft. If aircrafts like this get added to the IAF inventory, it will increase our air power,” General Rawat said after taking a sortie in Tejas.
General Rawat occupied the seat behind the pilot in the two-seater trainer variant of the Tejas, an indigenously built Light Combat Aircraft (LCA) and took to the skies above Yelahanka Air Force Station.
“Flight in LCA Tejas was an experience of a lifetime. From what I could witness, avionics are very good. Its targeting is very good,” said the Army chief adding, “We were doing normal maneuvres. We did not do the loop.”
Tejas was cleared on Wednesday for induction into the Indian Air Force (IAF) after it got final operational clearance (FOC) from military aviation regulator Cemilac as a weaponised fighter jet. Tejas is capable of carrying a range of weapons and fired them with precision at the target.
“It is a major milestone for the LCA to get the final operational clearance. The aircraft could fly in many sorties and has demonstrated the precision with which it can deliver weapons,” said Chief of Air Staff Air Marshal BS Dhanoa after FOC and release-to-service documents were handed over to him at the Aero India air show.
The aircraft got clearance after performing air-to-ground attacks and air-to-air refuelling at IAF’s Vayu Shakti air display at Pokhran in Rajasthan on February 16, Air Marshal Dhanoa told the reporters on Wednesday.
Tejas combat jets have been manufactured by the Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL), which has been one of the focal points for the opposition to target the Narendra Modi government amid row over Rafale deal. The Congress has alleged that the Rafale deal that was signed by the Modi government with France in 2016 denied the HAL contract to manufacture the fighter jet under transfer of technology agreement with its original manufacturer, the Dassault Aviation.
Congress president Rahul Gandhi targeted Prime Minister Narendra Modi over the issue accusing him of “taking away” the Rafale contract from HAL and “giving it to his friend Anil Ambani”, whose firm the Reliance Defence is an off-set partner of the Dassault Aviation.
India and France signed an intergovernmental agreement for the purchase of 36 Rafale fighter jets. The deal replaced the one being negotiated during the Congress-led United Progressive Alliance regime for 126 Rafale jets including 18 in flyaway condition.
First Published: Feb 21, 2019 13:25 IST