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Rajnath Singh flies Tejas! First Defence Minister to fly India’s light combat aircraft

Huma Siddiqui
Rajnath Singh, Rajnath Singh flies Tejas, Defence Minister, light combat aircraft , HAL, Light Combat Aircraft, MiG-21 Bison aircraft, DRDO

In a major boost to India's indigenous defence sector, Defence Minister Rajnath Singh today morning took to the skies in the twin version of the Light Combat Aircraft (LCA) Tejas from Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL) airport in Bengaluru.

The single-engine, indigenously designed and manufactured by HAL, LCA will be replacing the MiG-21 Bison aircraft which is being phased out from the Indian Air Force (IAF). And will be joining the No 45 Squadron ‘Flying Daggers' which is based at Tamil Nadu's Sulur Air Force Station.

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Over the next several years this multi-role fighter aircraft will be forming the backbone of the IAF along with the French Rafale and Su-30 MKIs. In 2017 the IAF had issued a Request for Proposal (RFP) for around 83 Light Combat Aircraft (LCA)-Mk1A aircraft at an estimated cost of Rs 45,000 crore. Though the contract has yet to be signed, ten out of 83 aircraft will be the twin-seater version to be used for training by the IAF. This is in addition to the earlier order of 40 that the IAF had placed, bringing the total to 123 LCA `Tejas’.

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According to HAL, the Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) had issued the Final Operation Clearance (FOC) standard certification on February 21, 2019. This is for certifying the aircraft is combat-ready.

As pointed out by the CMD of HAL T Suvarna Raju, the aircraft is four and a half-generation and has the capacity to be upgraded later. This Made in India aircraft has mid-air refuelling, active electronically scanned array (AESA) radar, electronic warfare suites, and is equipped with different types of bombs, missiles and weapons.

Last week, the HAL achieved another major milestone when the naval version of the LCA was successful in making a wire-arrested landing at Goa's Shore-based Test Facility (SBTF) INS Hansa.

According to the DRDO the wire-arrested landing by Tejas was a "golden letter day" in the history of Indian Naval Aviation.

More orders from the IAF will not only boost the Make in India initiative but will also help in creating jobs in the aerospace sector in public and private sector companies. The HAL has signed two contracts with the Ministry of Defence for 20+20 aircraft in Initial Operation Clearance (IOC) configuration and another 20 aircraft in Final Operation Clearance (FOC) configuration.


In an effort to speed up the manufacturing of these aircraft the HAL has outsourced major assembly modules to private partners.

Companies like DTL, Bengaluru (Front fuselage), Alphatocol, Bengaluru (Rear Fuselage), VEM Technologies, Hyderabad (Center Fuselage) and L&T, Coimbatore (Wings) are playing a major role in the production of these fighter jets.

To support the increased rate of production, the HAL has also created a parallel production line at Aircraft Division.

Export potential:

South Asian countries like Malaysia have expressed interest in buying these aircraft after the `Tejas’ had participated in LIMA 2019 for evaluation by RMAF.