India

Rajnath Singh Becomes First Defence Minister to Fly in Tejas Fighter Aircraft

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).

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.

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”.

“It will also boost the morale of IAF pilots who are flying these aircraft,” the official had said.

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 Rs 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.

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