Parrikar gets tech taste; IAF gets first Tejas
Bengaluru, Jan 17: Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar got a taste of the technologies being trumpeted by DRDO, HAL, BEML and BEL during a 13-hour supersonic visit to Bengaluru on Saturday.
As reported by OneIndia earlier, Parrikar also handed over documents of the first Tejas series production (SP-1) aircraft to the Indian Air Force (IAF) Chief Air Chief Marshal Arup Raha.
HAL must think out-of-the-box
While patting HAL for giving thrust to the Tejas project in the last couple of years, Parrikar reminded the DPSU to be smart in their thinking process.
"I want HAL to think out-of-the-box so as to meet the time-line challenges. HAL must also apply the right management tools," the minister said.
Parrikar wanted HAL to give thrust in the areas of research and technology by exploiting the existing knowledge base. "One does not achieve everything over-night. But by modifying our work culture and by adopting better technology and tools we can achieve the results better," he said.
Reluctant IAF finally toes the line
Interestingly, a top brass of Ministry of Defence (MoD), who was present during the event, told OneIndia that there were last-minute hand-holding between IAF and HAL ahead of the handing over ceremony.
"The IAF wasn't keen to accept just one Tejas and was insisting that they be given a minimum of four aircraft to justify the Squadron formation. In the interest of HAL and by respecting Prime Minister Narendra Modi's Make in India vision, the IAF finally agreed to accept SP-1," the top official told OneIndia late on Saturday night.
HAL quoted the IAF Chief in a release as saying: "We are happy to receive the documents of the first series production of LCA."
Tyagi's dream finally takes wing
For HAL Chairman Dr R K Tyagi, the dream of handing over SP-1 during his tenure was fulfilled on Saturday. Tyagi, who is set to retire on January 31, has been very vociferous in expressing the need to scale up the production numbers of Tejas.
Speaking to OneIndia Dr Tyagi termed the event as ‘historic' and ‘a red-letter day' for HAL. "There have been delays, but I am a satisfied man today for having delivered a world-class fighter jet to the IAF. I am delighted that a major portion of Tejas (60 per cent) is made in India and as we move ahead, we will increase the indigenous content," Dr Tyagi said.
He said there are around 82 Indian vendors who have been actively participated in the Tejas programme. "Out of the 338 LRUs, more than 200 have been produced in India. We will deliver SP2 in March and another six during the next financial year (2015-16). Subsequently we are capable of scaling up the numbers to eight and more," Dr Tyagi said.
Tejas has logged around 2800 flights in the last 14 years and in the last two years alone the numbers have crossed 800. Many HAL insiders credit Dr Tyagi for taking proactive steps in propelling the Tejas project during his tenure.
Parrikar rings the BEL
At BEL, Parrikar was presented a cheque for Rs.1,23,59,225 towards the Prime Minister's National Relief Fund. He also laid the foundation stone for the BEL Training Academy, aimed at organizing programmes for building the technical and behavioral competencies of officers.
The minister also visited the Akash Missile System facilities. He termed the BEL visit as an excellent R&D exercise.
(The writer is a seasoned aerospace and defence journalist in India. He is the Consultant Editor (Defence) with OneIndia. He tweets @writetake.)