Rajnath to fly in Light Combat Aircraft Tejas over Bengaluru


Bengaluru, Sep 18 (IANS): Defence Minister Rajnath Singh will fly in the indigenous Light Combat Aircraft (LCA) Tejas over this tech hub on Thursday morning for a first-hand assessment of the 4th generation fighter, an official said on Wednesday.

"Singh will fly in the LCA's trainer as a familiarization sortie from the HAL airport in the city's eastern suburb on Thursday morning after a briefing by Indian Air Force (IAF) pilots," a defence official told IANS here.

Designed and developed by the city-based Aeronautical Development Agency (ADA) of the state-run Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) and built by the aerospace behemoth Hindustan Aeronautics Ltd (HAL), the single engine, delta wing, multi-role fighter will be flown by a senior IAF pilot.

"Before taking off for a 30-minute sortie, the pilots of the 45 Squadron Flying Daggers will acquaint the Defence Minister with the air prowess of the home-grown fighter, its avionics, controls and radar in the glass cockpit and the weapons it carries for strike power," said the official.

The squadron is based at the Sulur air base near Coimbatore in southern Tamil Nadu.

With final operational clearance (FoC), the IAF has inducted 16 weaponised LCAs into its combat fleet since June 2018 after its pilots validated its earlier version with initial operational clearance (IoC) by the military aviation regulator Cemilac here in December 2013.

Though the IAF will initially have two squadrons of Tejas with 18 fighters each, it plans to have more squadrons with an additional 83 of them as Mark-1 version.

Former Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman, however, flew in Sukhoi-30 MKI fighter of the IAF on January 17, 2008 from Jodhpur air base in Rajasthan. She was also the first woman Raksha Mantri to fly in a fighter as a "co-pilot".

Former Presidents Pratibha Patil and A.P.J. Abdul Kalam also flew in Su-30 on November 25, 2009 and June 8, 2006 from Pune in western Maharashtra when in office as Supreme Commander of the armed forces.

Pratibha was the first woman President and Kalam the first President to fly in a military fighter.

  

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