Away from donning his routine olive green uniform, Army chief General Bipin Rawat was seen in a fighter pilot's suit when he took off from the Yelahanka Air Force base during ongoing Aero India show 2019 for a sortie in the indigenously built Light Combat Aircraft Tejas on Thursday. Rawat was in the navigator's seat during the 40-minute sortie.
The LCA Tejas is the smallest and lightest multi-role supersonic fighter jet in its class, whose induction into the Indian Air Force, along with Sukhoi-30 MKI fighter jets and Rafale aircraft, will eventually replace the ageing Jaguar and Mig-21 fleet. Tejas is also India’s first self-made fighter jet.
Rawat’s sortie comes as a move showing confidence in the capabilities of Tejas manufacturer Hindustan Aeronautics Limited and Make in India initiatives, only two days after two Surya Kiran aircraft collided mid-air during the rehearsal for the Aero India show, killing one pilot. A Jaguar aircraft also crashed on 28 January in Uttar Pradesh’s Kushinagar while a Mirage-2000 fighter crashed in Bengaluru on 1 February, killing both the pilots.
LCA Tejas received the final operational clearance (FOC) for induction into the air force as a fully-weaponised fighter from India’s military aviation regulator Centre for Military Airworthiness and Certification (CEMILAC). Apart from the FOC, other release-to-service documents were handed over to Chief of Air Staff Air Chief Marshal Birender Singh Dhanoa. CEMILAC gave Tejas the initial operational clearance in 2013, after which it was inducted into the IAF’s 45 Squadron in July 2016.
— ANI (@ANI) February 21, 2019
After completing the sortie, Rawat told reporters, "Flight in LCA Tejas was an experience of a lifetime. From what I could witness, avionics are very good, it's targeting is very good. It's a wonderful aircraft and if it gets added to the IAF inventory, it will increase our air power."
With inputs from agencies
Updated Date: Feb 21, 2019 13:42:51 IST