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Rajnath Singh Becomes First Defence Minister to Fly in Indigenous Tejas, 'Controlled' Combat Aircraft Briefly

Rajnath Singh, after his sortie, complimented the Tejas and said India had reached a level 'where we can export fighter planes across the world'.

News18.com

Updated:September 19, 2019, 12:36 PM IST
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Rajnath Singh Becomes First Defence Minister to Fly in Indigenous Tejas, 'Controlled' Combat Aircraft Briefly
Defence Minister Rajnath Singh signals after his flight on the Tejas aircraft. (Twitter/@rajnathsingh)

Bengaluru: Dressed in a G-suit, Rajnath Singh on Thursday became the first defence minister to fly in Tejas — the indigenously-built light combat aircraft — and described the experience as “exhilarating”.

“It was very smooth and comfortable. I was enjoying it. I want to congratulate HAL, DRDO and several agencies concerned. We have reached a level where we can export fighter planes across the world,” Singh said.

The Union minister was accompanied by Air Vice Marshal N Tiwari, who is also the Project Director, National Flight Test Centre, ADA (Aeronautical Development Agency) in Bengaluru.

Speaking about the sorties, DRDO chief Dr G Satheesh Reddy said, "The ‘Raksha Mantri’ controlled and flew the Tejas for some time." In response, Singh said, "Koi problem nahi, jaise-jaise N Tiwari batate rahe, waise-waise mein karta raha (There was no problem. I just followed N Tiwari’s instructions)."

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 "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.

Singh would also be attending an exhibition of products of the Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) in Bengaluru on Thursday, he had said.

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.

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