The HAL (Hindustan Aeronautics Limited) made Tejas LCA (Light Combat Aircraft) has been raking a lot of limelight these days. Not only it is India’s-first indigenous supersonic fighter jet, but it is also the world's lightest supersonic fighter. Also, the fact that top ministers and celebrities are given sorties on the Tejas makes it a household name in India.
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). Before that Army chief General Bipin Rawat and ace Badminton player, PV Sindhu took sortie in the Tejas at the 2019 Aero India. The IAF has already inducted a batch of Tejas aircraft.
There’s a fun fact, however. Tejas LCA is not the India’s first homegrown fighter jet, as many may believe. In fact, HAL-made HF-24 Marut was the India’s first developed and homemade fighter jet. Not only this, but HF-24 Marut was also the first Asian jet fighter to go past the test phase and was on active duty for almost 25 years.
Marut was initially developed to cross the supersonic speed but could never touch Mach 1, hence the record is now with the Tejas LCA. A total of 147 Marut were built, and the first unit was inducted by IAF in 1967. HF-24 Marut conducted its maiden flight in 1961.
While Marut played a big role during the 1971 Indo-Pak war at the Longewala border, by 1980s, it became obsolete and was phased out by 1990.