Singapore Defence Minister Ng Eng Hen today hailed India’s indigenously-built multi-role light combat aircraft Tejas as “very very capable”.
As the first civilian foreigner to fly on Tejas, Ng took a half-an-hour flight in the two-seater plane piloted by Air Vice Marshal A P Singh at the Kalaikunda airbase in West Bengal.
“It is a very very capable plane,” Ng told reporters here after flying on Tejas.
Hailing Tejas as “very impressive”, Ng said, “This is the reason why our air force trains with your air force. Pilots are superb, planes are pretty good.”
Praising Air Vice Marshal Singh as a “superbly confident and supremely professional” pilot, Ng said he felt as if he was riding a car and not flying in a fighter aircraft. “In fact the plane ride was so smooth that despite the G-turns and manoeuvres, I managed to even take some selfies,” Ng said.
Singh, who flew Tejas, is the project director of the National Flight Test Centre—Aeronautical Development Agency.
Asked whether Singapore is interested in buying the Tejas fighter aircraft, the minister said he was not a pilot and it was up to the technical people to take a call on it. Indian defence sources, however, said Singapore has evinced interest in Tejas.
During the Bahrain air show where Tejas aircraft was showcased, some Middle Eastern countries had also shown interest, the defence sources said.
Two Tejas aircraft were flown in here from Bangalore so that the Singapore defence minister can have a look at the aircraft.
Tejas aircraft was designed by the Aeronautical Development Agency and the Hindustan Aeronautics Limited for the Indian Air Force and the Navy.
The Singapore defence minister is scheduled to meet his Indian counterpart Nirmala Sitharaman in Delhi tomorrow.
“Bilateral defence ties between our two countries are strong and it is getting stronger,” Ng said. Asked whether they would discuss maritime security, Ng answered in the affirmative.
This would be Ng’s second dialogue with Sitharaman. They had also interacted in Manila during the 11th ASEAN Defence Ministers’ Meeting in October.
Singapore Air Force is holding joint military training with their Indian counterpart at the Kalaikunda airbase. Asked about the joint military training, Ng said, “I hope this will continue for long.”
The first joint military training between the Indian Air Force and the Republic of Singapore Air Force (RSAF) was held at the Gwalior air force station in 2004. Such an exercise was first held at Kalaikunda in 2007 and since then regular joint training has been held at the air force station here.