Dressed in G-suit, Rajnath Singh flies in home-grown fighter jet Tejas aircraft
Bengaluru, Sep 19: In first defence minister to do so, Defence Minister Rajnath Singh, dressed in a G-suit, flew in a homemade light combat aircraft (LCA) Tejas in Bengaluru from HAL Airport on Thursday.
Singh took to Twitter to share his excitement as well as two photos of him in the G-suit.
Rajnath Singh, 68, sat in the rear seat behind the pilot in the cockpit of the two-seater fighter jet. Air Vice Marshal Narmadeshwar Tiwari, Project Director (Flight Test), National Flight Test Centre, flew the aircraft.
"I was thrilled. It was a very smooth and comfortable flight. I was enjoying the flight. I am proud of the scientists of the country as well as the organisations who have worked on developing the Tejas aircraft. Today, there is a demand for Tejas in several other countries. We have reached a position in which we can not only export fighter aircraft but also other defence equipment to other countries," Singh said after the sortie.
Before taking off for a 30-minute sortie, Rajnath Singh was acquainted with the air prowess of LCA Tejas by the pilots of the 45 Squadron Flying Daggers.
A Defence Ministry official on Wednesday said the minister is "taking a sortie" in order to boost the morale of officers who have been involved in the development of "indigenously-made Tejas".
The IAF has already inducted a batch of Tejas aircraft. The naval version of the LCA is in the development stage.
Tejas has been designed and developed by the Hindustan Aeronautics Limited and Aeronautical Development Agency. The induction of this single-engine fighter will allow the IAF to replace the MiG-21 Bison aircraft.
In 2017, the Defence Acquisition Council (DAC) had cleared the acquisition of 83 LCA Tejas Mk1A aircraft and the HAL has also ramped up the production of the jet from eight per year to 16. It is to be noted that out of the 83 Tejas aircraft, 10 would be twin-seater version and the IAF will use these aircraft for the training of its pilots.