Rajnath Singh “thrilled” to fly Tejas, becomes first defence minister to fly the fighter jet
(Image: Twitter)

Defence Minister Rajnath Singh on Thursday flew in the homemade light combat aircraft (LCA) Tejas that took off from the Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL) airport in Bengaluru this morning.

With this, Rajnath Singh, 68, became the first Defence Minister in the office to fly the made in India fighter jet.

“Flying on ‘Tejas’, an Indigenous Light Combat Aircraft from Bengaluru’s HAL Airport was an amazing and exhilarating experience. Tejas is a multi-role fighter with several critical capabilities. It is meant to strengthen India’s air defence capabilities,” Rajnath tweeted with four photos after the flight.

He was accompanied by Air Vice Marshal N Tiwari, who is also the Project Director at National Flight Test Centre, Aeronautical Development Agency (ADA).

Wearing a G-suit and a white helmet, he waved to the ground staff, journalists and locals after he took his seat in the back seat.

“The flight was very smooth and comfortable. I was thrilled. I chose Tejas since it is made indigenously. I want to congratulate HAL, DRDO and several concerned agencies,” Rajnath told the reporters after the sortie.

“Countries in South East Asia have shown interest in buying Tejas aircraft. We can export fighter planes across the world” he added.

Earlier in the day, ahead of the flight, Rajnath tweeted two pictures of him dressed in a green flight suit and wrote, “All Set For The Day!”

A senior official from the DRDO also said that the minister also controlled the aircraft for sometime.

As per media reports, Rajnath took the sortie in order to boost the morale of IAF pilots who are flying the aircraft.

The Defence Minister is on a two-day visit to Bengaluru and is expected to attend programmes hosted by HAL and Defence Research and Development Organization (DRDO).

In January, the then Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman, became the second Indian woman leader to go on a sortie on the Russian made Sukhoi-30 fighter jet.

According to reports, the IAF had placed an order with the HAL for 40 Tejas aircrafts.

Last year, the IAF issued a proposal to HAL for the procurement of a batch of 83 Tejas at a cost of over Rs. 50,000 crores, reports said.

Designed by the Aeronautical Development Agency (ADA) and HAL for the Indian Air Force and Indian Navy, the Tejas is an Indian single-engine, multirole light fighter.

Indian Air Force currently has six fighter jets: French origin Mirage-2000, Jaguar of the Anglo-French origin and Russian made Sukhoi SU-30 MKI, MiG-29, MiG-27 and MiG-21 BISON.

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