India’s very own light combat aircraft Tejas has clocked well over 3,050 flight hours in test flights and will soon be replacing the now virtually obsolete MiG-21 aircraft this July.
Tejas has had a excruciatingly slow pace of development lasting 33 years and has been flying only on test runs since its first prototype took off in January 2001.
After missing several deadlines, HAL finally has something to cheer about.
Air Chief Marshal Arup Raha became the first IAF chief to fly in the multi-role supersonic Tejas at the Hindustan Aeronautics Centre (HAL) in Bengaluru on May 17.
He praised the quality of the fighter. Talking about Tejas finally being inducted into IAF, HAL chief T Suvarna Raju said, “The twin-seat Tejas trainer will undergo a full-profile sortie. It will convey IAF’s confidence in the indigenous fighter.”
IAF chief Arup Raha after his sortie in a Tejas fighter aircraft. Twitter
The first IAF Tejas squad will have four jets, which is slated to come up at Bengaluru by July 2016.
The squad will operate from a dedicated HAL hanger that will have designers and manufacturers at close hand so as to to resolve any problems.
The jets will stay at the Bengaluru base for a year, after which the squadron will be shifted to its earmarked airbase at Sulur, Tamil Nadu.
This will be a huge news for IAF as at present it is down to just 33 fighter squadrons composed of 16-18 jets each, out of which 11 squadrons are of the obsolete MiG-21 and MiG-27 fighter jets, both of which have poor serviceability.
IAF is also in need of another 45 squadrons, so as to counter a two-front collusive threat from Pakistan and China.