Union Defence Minister Rajnath Singh took a sortie in the indigenously-built light combat aircraft (LCA) Tejas from the HAL airport in Bengaluru on Thursday, 19 September.
Singh is the first defence minister to fly in the aircraft.
After the 30-minute sortie, Singh congratulated HAL and DRDO, saying he enjoyed the flight.
“It was very smooth and comfortable. I was enjoying [myself]. I want to congratulate HAL, DRDO and several concerned agencies. We have reached a level where we can export fighter planes across the world,” he said, according to ANI.
He also said on Twitter that it was a memorable experience.
Talking about his experience of flying with the defence minister, Tiwari said, "Raksha Mantri (Defence Minister) was flying the aircraft in the air (for 2 minutes), and he liked it. We went all the way up to 2 to 2.5 G. But I was showing him more avionics and sophisticated systems that we have on board like laser designation pod, using which you can pick up targets even from 20-25 km away."
"Raksha Mantri controlled and flew the Tejas for sometime,” DRDO Chief Dr G Satheesh Reddy said.
Air Vice Marshal N Tiwari, Project Director of National Flight Test Centre at ADA (Aeronautical Development Agency) said that the defence minister was very happy with the flying quality of the aircraft.
Ahead of his flight, the defence minister tweeted photos of himself in the flying suit
He was accompanied by Air Vice Marshal N Tiwari, Project Director of National Flight Test Centre at ADA (Aeronautical Development Agency) in Bengaluru, ANI reports said.
A Defence Ministry official had said on Wednesday that Singh is "taking a sortie" in order to boost the morale of the 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 minister will be briefed by IAF officers before taking a sortie on Thursday," he added.
"The minister will fly a sortie in the twin-seater version of Tejas on Thursday. He will be flying from HAL airport in Bengaluru," another official from the Defence Ministry said on Tuesday, according to PTI.
The Tejas Aircraft
The IAF has already inducted a batch of Tejas aircraft. The naval version of the LCA is in development stage.
The Tejas is an indigenous light weight, multi role supersonic aircraft developed in both fighter and trainer versions. Advanced materials like composites are used in the manufacture of the Tejas to reduce weight and increase the component life, according to PTI.
The Tejas is designed to carry a veritable plethora of air-to-air, air-to- surface, precision guided and standoff weaponry.
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, PTI reported.
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, according to PTI.
(With inputs from PTI and ANI.)