Union Defence Minister Rajnath Singh took flight in the indigenously-built light combat aircraft (LCA) Tejas from the HAL airport in Bengaluru Thursday. With this, he became the first defence minister to fly in the aircraft. Singh was accompanied by Air Vice Marshal N Tiwari Project Director, National Flight Test Centre, ADA (Aeronautical Development Agency) in Bengaluru.
The sortie was concluded 30 minutes after the Light Combat Aircraft (LCA) Tejas took off from Bengaluru.
Soon after the sortie, Rajnath Singh said, "It was very smooth and comfortable. I was enjoying. I want to congratulate HAL, DRDO and several concerned agencies. 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," Defence Minister Rajnath Singh added.
Earlier during the day, Singh had posted a picture of himself on Twitter and captioned it "All Set For The Day!"
All Set For The Day! pic.twitter.com/JUUdzafutq— Rajnath Singh (@rajnathsingh) September 19, 2019
"Leaving New Delhi for a two-day visit to Bengaluru. Shall attend certain programmes organised by @HALHQBLR & @DRDO_India. Look forward it," the defence minister said in another tweet.
A Defence Ministry official on Wednesday said the minister is "taking a sortie" in order to boost the morale of 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 IAF has already inducted a batch of Tejas aircraft. The naval version of the LCA is in the development stage.
#TejasIsOurPride#DefenceMinister @rajnathsingh will be flying in indigenously-built light combat aircraft (LCA) Tejas from the HAL airport in Bengaluru today, He will be the first defence minister to fly in the aircraft.@indiatvnews @HALHQBLR pic.twitter.com/jFTr97LYYg— T Raghavan (@NewsRaghav) September 19, 2019
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 the development of the naval variant of the fighter jet.
"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.
Singh would also be attending an exhibition of products of the Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) in Bengaluru on Thursday, he had said.
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.
Defence Minister Rajnath Singh takes off in Tejas