Bengaluru: Defence Minister Rajnath Singh on Thursday 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).
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
After the sortie which lasted for around 30 minutes, the defence minister said he chose the aircraft because it was built indigenously and that the experience of flying in the aircraft was thrilling.
"Flight very smooth, comfortable, I was thrilled. It was one of the most memorable events of my life," said Singh after alighting from the aircraft.
#WATCH DRDO Chief Dr G Satheesh Reddy says, "Raksha Mantri controlled and flew the Tejas for sometime." Defence Minister says, "Koi problem nahi, jaise-jaise N Tiwari batate rahe, waise-waise mein karta raha." pic.twitter.com/Do23J05M2I
— ANI (@ANI) September 19, 2019
Wearing a G suit, holding his helmet under his arms and sporting aviator glasses, Singh looked every inch a fighter pilot.
"I want to congratulate HAL, DRDO and several agencies concerned. 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," he said.
An official said the minister also "controlled" and flew the aircraft for around two minutes. However, the minister said he was following orders. "But those two minutes were memorable," he said.
The minister had earlier 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.
A defence ministry official had said on Wednesday 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".
— editorji (@editorji) September 19, 2019
"It will also boost the morale of IAF pilots who are flying these aircraft," the official had said.
Vice President Venkaiah Naidu took to Twitter to compliment the defence minister for flying the aircraft. He said, "His (Rajnath's) gesture will provide a big boost to the morale of the Armed Forces and also to DRDO and HAL."
I compliment Defence Minister, Shri Rajnath Singh Ji for flying on Tejas, the indigenously built multi-role fighter aircraft, today. His gesture in flying on the LCA will provide a big boost to the morale of the Armed Forces and also to DRDO & HAL @DRDO_India @rajnathsingh #Tejas pic.twitter.com/MCEjZO59Q7
— VicePresidentOfIndia (@VPSecretariat) September 19, 2019
The IAF has already inducted a batch of Tejas aircraft. The naval version of the LCA is in the 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 the 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 Rs 50,000 crore.
The Tejas is an indigenous lightweight, 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 PTI.
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Updated Date: Sep 19, 2019 14:24:24 IST