Bengaluru: India's first home-grown fighter jet was finally inducted into the IAF yesterday after a tortuous saga spread over 33 long years with the launch of the first squadron of two Light Combat Aircraft (LCA) Tejas here, in a major milestone in the country's military aviation.
A priest offers prayers during the induction of Tejas into the IAF fold at HAL (ASTE) in Bengaluru yesterday. Pic/PTI
A Tejas aircraft, the fourth plus generation lightweight, multi-role supersonic single engine jet sporting the IAF colours soared to the skies, marking the raising of the first squadron of Tejas in the force at a ceremony preceded by inter-faith prayers, more than three decades after it went into development.
PM Narendra Modi hailed the induction of Tejas as a matter of 'unparalleled pride and happiness' and a step which illustrates the skills and strengths of Indian scientists. Air Marshal Jasbir Wali said it is a 'milestone' with regard to indigenisation and self reliance.
@narendramodi: I laud HAL & ADA on the induction of Tejas fighter jet. This illustrates our skills & strengths to enhance indigenous defence manufacturing.
@AmitShah: Induction of 'Made In India' fighter jet #Tejas is a great leap in defence sector which will boost the morale of our IAF. #TransformingIndia
@Logical_Bhaqt: Engine American Radar and weapons Israeli Ejection seat British #Tejas = Indigenious Assembled Aircraft!!!
Flying the indigenous Tejas after its induction into the IAF was like being on top of the world, said Group Captain Madhav Rangachari yesterday.
The 40-year-old test pilot is the commanding officer of the IAF's 45 squadron nicknamed Flying Daggers. "I felt like being on top of the world when flying the Tejas fighter.
It's an honour and a privilege to pilot the inaugural flight of the LCA soon after its induction," Rangachari told reporters after a 10-minute solo sortie.
He added, "I could do only horizontal profile and not vertical due to the cloudy sky. It's an excellent aircraft and generation ahead of other fighters in the world. Being the only of its kind (LCA), it's not comparable with other military aircraft."
Made in India
> The aircraft was named 'Tejas' (meaning radiance in Sanskrit) by former prime Atal Bihari Vajpayee
> The LCA has flown more than 3,000 sorties or 2,000 hours till date
> IAF said it will induct 6 aircraft this financial year and about 8 in the next and by 2018 the full complement of 20 aircraft
> All squadrons of Tejas will comprise 20 planes, including four in the reserve