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Monday, Oct 21, 2019

‘Smooth and comfortable,’ says Rajnath Singh after 30-min sortie on LCA Tejas

Defence minister Rajnath Singh flew in the LCA’s trainer as a familiarization sortie from the HAL airport in Bengaluru’s eastern suburb. Before taking off for a 30-minute sortie, the pilots of the 45 Squadron Flying Daggers acquainted the Defence Minister with the air prowess of the home-grown fighter

india Updated: Sep 19, 2019 14:42 IST
HT Correspondent
HT Correspondent
Hindustan Times, New Delhi
Defence Minister Rajnath Singh prepares to fly in the Tejas fighter aircraft from the HAL airport in Bengaluru.
Defence Minister Rajnath Singh prepares to fly in the Tejas fighter aircraft from the HAL airport in Bengaluru. (PTI Photo)
         

Looking sharp in a flying suit, Rajnath Singh, 68, on Thursday became the first defence minister to fly in the indigenous Light Combat Aircraft (LCA) Tejas in Bengaluru. Tejas is a four-and-half generation light combat aircraft developed by state-run aerospace behemoth Hindustan Aeronautics Ltd (HAL).

The minister flew in the LCA’s trainer as a familiarization sortie from the HAL airport in the city’s eastern suburb. Before taking off for a 30-minute sortie, the pilots of the 45 Squadron Flying Daggers acquainted the Defence Minister with the air prowess of the home-grown fighter, its avionics, controls and radar in the glass cockpit and the weapons it carries for strike power. He was flown by a senior IAF pilot.

Watch: Dressed in G-suit, Rajnath Singh takes sortie in Tejas aircraft

“It was very smooth and comfortable. I was enjoying. I want to congratulate HAL, DRDO and several concerned agencies. We have reached a level where we can export fighter planes across the world,” Singh said after the flight.

 

Last Friday in Goa, LCA Tejas carried out an “arrested landing”, a key performance parameter 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. The next step would be to land on an aircraft carrier. The Indian Air Force (IAF) has already inducted a batch of Tejas aircraft.

With final operational clearance (FoC), the IAF has inducted 16 weaponised LCAs into its combat fleet since June 2018 after its pilots validated its earlier version with initial operational clearance (IoC) by the military aviation regulator Cemilac here in December 2013. The naval version of LCA Tejas is also being developed.

Earlier former defence minister Nirmala Sitharaman flew in a Sukhoi-30 MKI fighter of the IAF on January 17, 2008 from Jodhpur air base in Rajasthan. She was also the first woman Raksha Mantri to fly in a fighter as a “co-pilot”.

Former Presidents Pratibha Patil and A.P.J. Abdul Kalam also flew in Su-30 on November 25, 2009 and June 8, 2006 from Pune in western Maharashtra when in office as Supreme Commander of the armed forces. Patil was the first woman President and Kalam the first President to fly in a military fighter.

First Published: Sep 19, 2019 09:58 IST

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