Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Saturday undertook a sortie on the indigenously designed, developed and manufactured Tejas Twin Seat Light Combat Fighter aircraft, and said the experience has bolstered his confidence in the country’s indigenous capabilities.
This is the first time an Indian prime minister has flown a fighter aircraft sortie, according to the Indian Air Force (IAF).
Clad in the uniform of an Air Force pilot, a delightful Modi seemed to enjoy the moments as he waved multiple times.
Taking to social media platform ‘X’, the prime minister said, ”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,” he said.
The sortie was carried out from the Aircraft Systems Testing Establishment, Bengaluru, the IAF said, adding, during the 30-minute sortie, capabilities of fighter aircraft Tejas were demonstrated to the prime minister.
मैं आज तेजस में उड़ान भरते हुए अत्यंत गर्व के साथ कह सकता हूं कि हमारी मेहनत और लगन के कारण हम आत्मनिर्भरता के क्षेत्र में विश्व में किसी से कम नहीं हैं। भारतीय वायुसेना, DRDO और HAL के साथ ही समस्त भारतवासियों को हार्दिक शुभकामनाएं। pic.twitter.com/xWJc2QVlWV— Narendra Modi (@narendramodi) November 25, 2023
In the videos and pictures, the prime minister can be seen flashing thumbs-up gestures with a broad smile, after boarding the aircraft and on landing.
He also posed standing next to the aircraft, pointing at ‘Tejas’ writing on it.
”Flying in Tejas today, I can say with immense pride that due to our hard work and dedication, we are no less than anyone in the world in the field of self-reliance. Heartiest congratulations to the Indian Air Force, DRDO and HAL as well as all Indians,” he added.
Modi earlier walked towards the waiting pilot and had a short chat with him, before boarding the twin-seater aircraft and positioning himself properly with the help of Air Force staff.
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. pic.twitter.com/4aO6Wf9XYO— Narendra Modi (@narendramodi) November 25, 2023
During the sortie, he can be seen keenly observing the surroundings and waving at another fighter aircraft, flying at a visible distance — taken from cameras inside the cabin and the other aircraft.
On landing, the prime minister waved and made thumbs-up gestures again, applauding the Air Force officials.
According to IAF, Modi, who has given a strong impetus to ‘Aatmanirbhar Bharat’ in defence manufacturing, applauded the scientists, engineers and flight test crew associated with the designing, development and production of the state-of-art fighter aircraft.
He expressed pride in the capabilities of Indian engineers and scientists, it said.
A flight to remember! Tejas is India’s pride, a manifestation of the strength and skills of 140 crore Indians. pic.twitter.com/n8hZk6fGKc— Narendra Modi (@narendramodi) November 25, 2023
Modi arrived in the city earlier today and visited Defence PSU Hindustan Aeronautics Limited to review the ongoing work at its manufacturing facilities, officials said.
The prime minister has been pushing for indigenous production of defence products and highlighting how his government has boosted their manufacturing in India and also their exports.
Several countries have evinced interest in buying Tejas, a light combat aircraft, and US defence giant GE Aerospace had inked a pact with HAL to jointly produce engines for the Mk-II-Tejas during the prime minister’s recent state visit to the US.
Defence Minister Rajnath Singh noted in April this year that India’s defence exports have reached an all-time high of Rs 15,920 crore in 2022-2023. It is a remarkable achievement for the country, he had said.
The LCA trainer is a lightweight, all-weather, multirole aircraft which can undertake all roles of a single-seat Tejas fighter and can also be used as a fighter trainer. This is the first time that an indigenous twin-seat fighter has been designed, developed and manufactured in India, IAF said in a release.
Noting that with an amalgamation of contemporary concepts and technologies such as quadruplex fly-by-wire flight control, carefree manoeuvring, advanced glass cockpit, integrated digital avionics systems and advanced composite materials for the airframe, it is a state-of-the-art aircraft, it said, ”the fighter aircraft has enhanced the defence capabilities and preparedness of the nation.” The IAF test crew has been involved with the Tejas project right from the conceptual stage till prototype testing. The first version of the aircraft was inducted into the IAF in 2016. Currently, two squadrons of IAF, 45 Squadron and 18 Squadron, are fully operational with LCA Tejas.
An order worth Rs 36,468 crore for delivery of 83 LCA Mk 1A aircraft has been placed with HAL and delivery is scheduled to begin by February 2024. HAL has the current capacity to build eight LCA aircraft per year. This is being increased to 16 aircraft every year by 2025 and further to 24 aircraft every year in the next three years, IAF explained.
More than Rs 9,000 crore have been sanctioned for the development of LCA Mk 2, an updated and more lethal version of LCA Tejas, IAF said, adding, to further promote indigenisation, including of the aircraft engine, Transfer of Technology for manufacturing of the GE engine in India has been negotiated with GE during prime minister’s visit to the US in June 2023.
In the coming years, Tejas would be the largest fleet of fighter aircraft to be operated by the Indian Air Force, it said, adding that today’s sortie by the prime minister will encourage the aeronautics ecosystem and give a big boost to ‘Aatmanirbhar Bharat’ in defence sector. PTI