First Squadron of Tejas inducted by IAF
India’s first home-grown fighter jet was finally inducted into the IAF today 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 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.
The LCA, smallest and lightest of its class, was flown by Commanding Officer Group Captain Madhav Rangachari for a sortie for about seven minutes at the induction ceremony and was given a water cannon salute on landing.
Prime Minister 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.
“Induction of indigenously made Tejas fighter jet into the Air Force fills our hearts with unparalleled pride & happiness,” he tweeted.
“I laud HAL & ADA on the induction of Tejas fighter jet.
This illustrates our skills & strengths to enhance indigenous defence manufacturing,” Modi said in another tweet.
Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar said Tejas will take the country’s air strength to new heights.
“Moment of National pride. Indigenously developed Tejas fighter jet inducted into Air Force. Tejas will take our air strength to new heights,” Parrikar tweeted.
State-run Hindustan Aeronautics Limited(HAL) handed over two Tejas aircraft to IAF at a ceremony held at the Aircraft System Testing Establishment here earlier in the day.
HAL officials and Air Marshal Jasbir Walia, Air Officer Commanding-in Chief, Southern Air Command, Air Marshal Rakesh Kumar Singh Bhadauria, the Deputy Chief of the Air Staff and HAL Chairman Suvarna Raju were present.
A ‘Sarvadharma Samaroh’ (inter-faith prayer), a practice followed by Air force during such inductions, was also held.
The two Tejas aircraft were inducted into 45 squadron of IAF, also called as “Flying Daggers”, which will be based in Bengaluru for the first two years before it is moved to Sulur in Tamil Nadu.
The aircraft was named “Tejas” (meaning radiance in Sanskrit) by Atal Bihari Vajpayee as Prime Minister.
Calling it a “capable” aircraft, HAL said it would be used for air to air and air to ground strikes.
Conceived as a replacement to the ageing MiG 21s, it has been designed by Aeronautical Development Agency (ADA) and produced by HAL. The LCA has flown more than 3,000 sorties or 2,000 hours till date.
Citing induction of Tejas as an important moment for the IAF, Air Marshal Jasbir Wali said it is a “milestone” with regard to indigenisation and self reliance.
Asked why only two aircraft formed the first LCA squadron, he said, “It is our aircraft, when we buy, we buy eight or 20. It is our aircraft, we are part of it, and it will keep coming to us.”
On Final Operational Clearance in March 2017, he said, “yes, yes we are hopeful. This (induction) is a big milestone.
After this, things will move at a rapid pace.