HAL Tejas, also known as the Light Combat Aircraft (LCA) project, has been inducted into the Indian Air Force. Two of the single-engine multi-role fighter jets, pegged to be the world’s smallest and lightest supersonic fighter, were handed over to the Air Force. They will be stationed in Bengaluru, as part of the first Tejas squadron called ‘Flying Daggers’.
State-run Hindustan Aeronautics Ltd (HAL) handed over the first two Tejas aircraft to the IAF at a ceremony preceded by inter-faith prayers at the Aircraft System Testing Establishment here.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi expressed pride and happiness over the induction of indigenously-built Tejas fighter jet into the A ‘Sarva Dharma Pooja’ (inter-faith prayer) was conducted before the induction at IAF’s Aircraft Systems & Test Establishment in Bengaluru.
Such rituals are customary at inductions and before staff training sessions, an IAF official said.
The Tejas can carry air-to-air and air-to-surface weapons. The new squadron will get a total of 18 aircraft including four trainers by 2018.
A Tejas aircraft flown by Commanding Officer Group Captain Madhav Rangachari performed a sortie during the induction ceremony, which was attended by Air Marshal Jasbir Walia, Air Officer Commanding-in Chief, Southern Air Command, and senior HAL executives.
“It feels like I am on the top of the world. I feel honoured and privileged,” said Captain Rangachari, the first Commanding Officer of the squadron, after he touched down from a flight. His team will have seven officers, 42 air warriors and about 20 non-commissioned officers.
Air Marshal Walia said, “It’s our baby. It’s an excellent aircraft. The Air chief has also flown it earlier. We will be inducting more aircraft in a phased manner. We hope to fly Tejas on Air Force Day, October 8.”
Coconuts were cracked open and multi-faith ceremonies were held to mark the induction of the planes. A spectacular water-cannon salute was also part of the rituals. The name “Tejas”, which means radiance in Sanskrit, was given by former prime minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee.