Rajnath’s maiden sortie on Tejas LCA in Bengaluru

Bengaluru: Defence Minister Rajnath Singh ready for a sortie on the LCA ‘Tejas’ in Bengaluru on Sep 19, 2019. (Photo: Twitter/DefenceMinIndia)

New Delhi,  Defence Minister Rajnath Singh undertook a maiden sortie on a Tejas Light Combat Aircraft (LCA), fully dressed in a G-Suit, from Bengaluru on Thursday.

Singh, who became the first Defence Minister of the country to fly in a Tejas, took to the cockpit of the fighter jet with a pilot in the front seat.

“Singh is the first Raksha Mantri (Defence Minister) to fly the LCA. National Flight Test Centre Director Air-Vice Marshal N. Tiwari piloted the fourth-generation fighter trainer, with Singh behind him in the tandem seater in the glass cockpit,” a Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) told IANS here.

The fighter jet, a twin-seater trainer aircraft, took off from the airport of defence public sector unit Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL) in Bengaluru for a 30-minute sortie at 9.58 a.m.

A senior IAF officer and a ground staff at the airport guided Rajnath in taking the rear seat inside the cockpit ensuring all safety gear were in place. Singh waved out to the crowds at the Karnataka airport before the fighter jet took to the runway.

Shortly before entering the cockpit, Rajnath posted his photographs dressed in a G-suit on Twitter. “All Set for the Day,” he tweeted. On Wednesday, Singh had left for Bengaluru to participate in the programme that has been jointly organised by the HAL and the DRDO.

Singh’s maiden flight on the Tejas comes ahead of the Indian Air Force (IAF) placing an order for 83 jets with the HAL, the manufacturer of the 4-plus generation combat aircraft.

In the first week of September, the pricing-related issue of the 83 jets, which had been hanging fire for long, had been successfully resolved by the Department of Defence Production with the HAL.

The new batch of 83 jets will be in addition to the 40 aircraft that have already been ordered by the IAF.

The Tejas has been designed by India’s premier defence research institute, the Defence Research & Development Organisation (DRDO).

On September 13, the naval version of Tejas LCA had achieved a major milestone with a successful “arrested landing” at the shore-based Test Facility of INS Hansa in Goa. The Indian Navy had hailed September 13 as a “golden letter day” in its history.