In a groundbreaking moment, Prime Minister Narendra Modi took to the skies as the first sitting Prime Minister to co-pilot the indigenous Light Combat Aircraft (LCA) Tejas. The historic sortie, attired in a G-suite, lasted a few minutes and marked a significant milestone in India’s aerospace capabilities.
Tejas: A Symbol of Indigenous Excellence
The Tejas Aircraft
The Tejas, designed and developed by the Aeronautical Development Agency (ADA) and Hindustan Aeronautics Ltd (HAL), has been an integral part of the Indian Air Force (IAF) fleet for over seven years. Operated by two squadrons, the ‘Flying Daggers’ and the ‘Flying Bullets,’ this multi-role platform stands among the best in its class.
Upgrades and Future Plans
With the IAF ordering 83 LCA Mk-1A variants, equipped with updated avionics, an Active Electronically Steered Radar, enhanced Electronic Warfare suite, and Beyond Visual Range missile capability, the Tejas is set to reach new heights. The deliveries are scheduled to commence in February 2024, showcasing a substantial increase in indigenous content.
International Recognition and Participation
Foreign Dignitaries and Exercises
The Tejas has not only garnered appreciation within the country but has also hosted foreign dignitaries. General David L Goldfein, Chief of Staff of the US Air Force, Chief of Staff of the French Air Force, and General André Lanata are among those who have experienced a flight aboard this indigenous marvel.
The aircraft’s global presence was further solidified during its maiden exercise on foreign soil in March 2023 at Ex-Desert Flag in the United Arab Emirates. This participation demonstrated India’s aerospace prowess on an international stage.
Prime Minister Modi’s Reflection
Prime Minister Modi, sharing his reflections on the experience, expressed that the sortie was “incredibly enriching” and significantly boosted his confidence in India’s indigenous capabilities. This historic flight has instilled a renewed sense of pride and optimism in the Prime Minister regarding the nation’s potential in the aerospace sector.
Exploring the Skies in Indigenous Excellence
In an unprecedented move, Prime Minister Narendra Modi soared through the skies, becoming the first head of state to pilot the Tejas, a marvel of indigenous aerospace engineering. Clad in a G-suite, the Prime Minister joined forces with an Indian Air Force (IAF) pilot for a brief but impactful sortie that commenced from the Hindustan Aeronautics Ltd (HAL) Airport in Bengaluru.
A Triumph in Every Aspect
Expressing his exhilaration on X (formerly Twitter), Mr. Modi shared, “Successfully completed a sortie on the Tejas. The experience was incredibly enriching, significantly bolstering my confidence in our country’s indigenous capabilities, and leaving me with a renewed sense of pride and optimism about our national potential.”
The Tejas: Jewel in India’s Aerospace Crown
Developed by the Aeronautical Development Agency (ADA) in collaboration with HAL, the Tejas has been an integral part of the Indian Air Force (IAF) fleet for over seven years. The IAF currently operates two squadrons of this cutting-edge aircraft: No 45 Squadron, known as the ‘Flying Daggers,’ and No 18 Squadron, the ‘Flying Bullets.’
Unveiling the Tejas
Originally christened Tejas in 2003, this multi-role platform stands among the best in its class. Designed for Air Defence, Maritime Reconnaissance, and Strike roles, the Tejas showcases India’s prowess in aerospace technology.
A Glimpse into the Future: LCA Mk-1A
Looking ahead, the IAF has placed an order for 83 LCA Mk-1A, featuring upgraded avionics, an Active Electronically Steered Radar, an enhanced Electronic Warfare suite, and Beyond Visual Range missile capability. The new variant promises increased indigenous content, with deliveries expected to commence in February 2024.
Aboard the Tejas: Beyond the Political Realm
Beyond Mr. Modi, other notable figures have also shared the skies with the Tejas. Defence Minister Rajnath Singh, badminton sensation PV Sindu, and Singapore Defence Minister Ng Eng Hen have co-piloted this remarkable aircraft.
The Tejas has garnered attention on the international stage, with General David L Goldfein, Chief of Staff of the US Air Force, and General André Lanata among the foreign dignitaries who have experienced its capabilities firsthand.
Showcasing Indian Aerospace Prowess
The IAF has effectively showcased India’s indigenous aerospace capabilities by exhibiting the Tejas at prestigious international events. From LIMA-2019 in Malaysia to the Dubai Air Show-2021 and various Aero India Shows from 2017 to 2023, the Tejas has left an indelible mark.
Breaking Boundaries: Tejas in Foreign Skies
While the Tejas had previously engaged in exercises with foreign air forces domestically, its maiden foreign exercise occurred at Ex-Desert Flag in the United Arab Emirates in March 2023, marking a significant milestone in its international journey.
Frequently Asked Questions
Q: Who designed the Tejas aircraft?
A: The Tejas aircraft was designed and developed by the Aeronautical Development Agency (ADA) and Hindustan Aeronautics Ltd (HAL).
Q: How many squadrons of Tejas does the IAF operate?
A: The Indian Air Force currently operates two squadrons of Tejas: the ‘Flying Daggers’ and the ‘Flying Bullets.’
Q: When is the expected commencement of deliveries for the LCA Mk-1A variant?
A: The contracted deliveries of the LCA Mk-1A variant are expected to commence in February 2024.
Q: Has the Tejas participated in any foreign exercises?
A: Yes, the Tejas participated in its maiden foreign exercise, Ex-Desert Flag, in the United Arab Emirates in March 2023.
In conclusion, Prime Minister Modi’s historic flight in the LCA Tejas not only marks a significant achievement for India’s aerospace industry but also underscores the country’s commitment to advancing indigenous capabilities in defense.