By Deepak Patel :
BENGALURU 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. After the 30-minute sortie, the Defence Minister said he chose the aircraft because it was built indigenously and described the flying experience as thrilling. “Flight very smooth, comfortable, I was thrilled. It was one of the most memorable events of my life,” said the 68-year-old Singh after alighting from the aircraft. “This is an indigenous plane.
So, it came naturally to me to fly in Tejas and experience the flying. It was also to check under what conditions do our fighter pilots fly these aircraft. This is why I flew in this aircraft,” the Minister said. Wearing a G suit, holding his helmet under his arms and sporting aviator glasses, Singh looked every inch a fighter pilot. “I want to congratulate HAL, DRDO and several agencies concerned. We have reached a level where we can export fighter planes across the world...Countries in South East Asia have shown interest in purchasing Tejas aircraft,” he said. An official said the Minister also “controlled” and flew the aircraft for around two minutes.
However, the Minister said he was following orders. “But those two minutes were memorable,” he said. In a tweet, Singh said: “The ‘G-Suite’ and ‘Tejas’: It was a memorable experience. Thank you @IAF_MCC @HALHQBLR & @DRDO_India for this proud moment.” “Special thanks to AVM, N Tiwari, who is also the Project Director, National Flight Test Centre, ADA (Aeronautical Development Agency) for the sortie,” he said. The Minister was accompanied by Air Vice Marshal Tiwari, who is also the Project Director, National Flight Test Centre, ADA (Aeronautical Development Agency) in Bengaluru. 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 2.5g. 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.”
When a person is standing still on earth, the amount of force exerted by earth’s gravitational field is “one g”. Fighter pilots have to bear higher number of g’s as they fly at high speed and altitude. Tiwari said the minister was very happy with the flying quality, “the smoothness, the controls, and the way the aircraft was flying”. “We went close to Mach 1, the speed of sound, but he couldn’t make it out. I had to tell him that this is the speed now,” Tiwari added. Officials said the basic flying in the Indian Air Force currently starts by 20.5 years and a pilot is generally ready to fly fighter jets in IAF at around 22 years of age. He also said that there is no upper age limit for flying fighter jets.
Till the time a pilot is medically fit - up to the standards set by the IAF - he or she can fly the fighter jet, the official said. The chief of the Indian Air Force is 62 years old. Singh also attended an exhibition of products of the Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) in Bengaluru. ‘Use of indigenous technology in Armed Forces would be 75 pc by 2029-30’: AFTER flying indigenously-built light combat aircraft Tejas, Union Defence Minister Rajnath Singh said at an event here on Thursday that the use of indigenous technology in armed forces would be around 75 per cent by 2029-30. On Thursday morning, Singh 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).
“The use of indigenous technology (in Armed Forces) will be around 75 per cent by the time we reach 2029-30. No one had thought that we will be using indigenous technology this way,” Singh said after attending an exhibition of products of Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) here. “That day is not far when we can create 100 per cent of items in our country itself,” he added. “Indigenous arms, ammunition and weapons are being developed in India...We are developing such a capacity gradually,” he said.
Our export capability is being built up too, Singh said. “Recently developed ASAT (anti-satellite) missile, the use of Netra in Balakot air strike, and the recent successful testing of air-to-air missile Astra - these incidents have solidified the nation’s trust in DRDO,” said the Minister. Netra is an airborne early warning and control (AEWC) aircraft and it played a prominent role in the air strikes conducted by Indian Air Force at Balakot (Pakistan) in February. Singh said, “This exhibition shows the participation of private industries too. We cannot ignore the contribution of big industrialists. They have a big contribution.”
US AEROSPACE GIANT CONGRATULATES INDIA FOR ‘ARREST LANDING’: US aerospace giant Lockheed Martin has congratulated the Indian defence establishment for carrying out a successful “arrest landing” of India’s indigenously developed Light Combat Aircraft Tejas, saying that the company is looking forward to support the Indian Navy’s LCA programme. India carried out successful “arrest landing” of Tejas last week in Goa, a major milestone in development of the naval variant of the jet.
The test demonstrated the aircraft’s ability to halt at a short distance after landing on board an aircraft carrier. Vivek Lall, Vice President of Strategy and Business Development at Lockheed Martin, in an interview to PTI congratulated the Indian Navy, Aeronautical Development Agency and Hindustan Aeronautics Limited, terming it as a “significant engineering feat” that should be celebrated. “Lockheed Martin is fully committed to India and we look forward to supporting the LCA Navy programme if desired given our breadth and depth of expertise in that area,” he said. Speaking about Lockheed Martin’s pitch for the sale of F-21 fighter jets to India, he said it is the best best way to strengthen the defence ties between India and the US as such a trade deal would make India the “epicentre of USD 165 billion” global market.