Tejas Mk.1 & Mk.1A: News & Discussions: 23 February 2019

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Re: Tejas Mk.1 & Mk.1A: News & Discussions: 23 February 2019

Postby fanne » 26 May 2020 01:18

Rumor on twitter - Tejas in Leh!!
Is it the best plane to fly from such an altitude? With mature (shall I say best) Air to ground ability and decent AA ability it may be tasked to handle the Chinese should the balloon go up?

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Re: Tejas Mk.1 & Mk.1A: News & Discussions: 23 February 2019

Postby ks_sachin » 26 May 2020 03:54

fanne wrote:Rumor on twitter - Tejas in Leh!!
Is it the best plane to fly from such an altitude? With mature (shall I say best) Air to ground ability and decent AA ability it may be tasked to handle the Chinese should the balloon go up?

It's been there before...

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Re: Tejas Mk.1 & Mk.1A: News & Discussions: 23 February 2019

Postby srai » 26 May 2020 06:01

^^^
Designed from ground up for Indian operational conditions and per IAF specifications.
Which other fighter in the fleet can boast about that?





http://delhidefencereview.com/2020/05/1 ... s-fighter/
On the other hand, one of the quintessential operational requirements for Indian borders is the ability to operate from high altitude airfields during hot summers. ‘Hot and high’ conditions severely impede any aircraft’s lift generation capability and thereby payload capacity. This is especially true of fighter aircraft with small wings. Image 4 below shows the Tejas being prepared for flight during hot weather trials at Leh Airfield, which is at an altitude of 10,682 feet above mean sea level, with a payload of about 3.2 t. Once again, bear in mind that this is a test aircraft with 300 kg of extra instrumentation onboard. Forget the two fighter aircraft it is being compared to, taking off with 3.5 t of payload during summer at Leh is near the what twin-engined medium-weight fighter can accomplish, while operating in similar conditions. This is not surprising because the wing area of the Tejas is comparable to that of medium weight fighters.


Image
Last edited by srai on 26 May 2020 14:04, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: Tejas Mk.1 & Mk.1A: News & Discussions: 23 February 2019

Postby Wickberg » 26 May 2020 14:03

srai wrote:^^^
Designed from ground up for Indian operational conditions and per IAF specifications.
Which other fighter in the fleet can boast about that?

Ehhh, every fighterplane that exists? Gripen for instance is in service from the cold north of Sweden down to the humid heat of Thailand, from the high planes of Afghanistan to dry hot temperatures of South Africa. Pretty much the same goes with every fighter that exists today...

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Re: Tejas Mk.1 & Mk.1A: News & Discussions: 23 February 2019

Postby srai » 26 May 2020 14:06

^^^
In IAF fleet? Designed by India?

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Re: Tejas Mk.1 & Mk.1A: News & Discussions: 23 February 2019

Postby Khalsa » 26 May 2020 14:27

Cross Posting from the MRCA Thread and I have slightly tweaked the sub-points.

Indranil wrote:Next time somebody asks you:

1. Is manufacturing MWF in 2028 okay?
Answer: Tell them that IF MMRCA is to be signed in 2020, its production would conclude in 2032 and that is deemed as okay !

1.b If the Gripen in chosen, its certification wouldn't conclude by 2023. But that is okay too !

2. Is producing 16 aircrafts per year for an 83 aircraft order okay?
Answer: Tell them 114 aircrafts over 12 years was deemed to be okay !


@Admiral. We need a special section on page 1 of this thread that captures the 101 that you and Indranil are pounding out.
We now need to infect the massess with the combination of knowledge, awareness, direction we have as a BRaves.

Vidya, Vinamrata, Veerta

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Re: Tejas Mk.1 & Mk.1A: News & Discussions: 23 February 2019

Postby Lekhraj » 26 May 2020 14:49

What is the benefit of having a Tejas airbase in Coimbatore. Tejas flight envelop is small and its requirement is more in the Himalayas bordering pakistan and cheen.

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Re: Tejas Mk.1 & Mk.1A: News & Discussions: 23 February 2019

Postby srai » 26 May 2020 15:09

^^^
One of the initial reasons is Bangalore aviation hub for LCA manufacturing and after sales support. Once kinks are ironed out, they will most likely be located on airbases that the MiG-21s occupy.

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Re: Tejas Mk.1 & Mk.1A: News & Discussions: 23 February 2019

Postby Picklu » 26 May 2020 15:48

Wickberg wrote:Ehhh, every fighterplane that exists? Gripen for instance is in service from the cold north of Sweden down to the humid heat of Thailand, from the high planes of Afghanistan to dry hot temperatures of South Africa. Pretty much the same goes with every fighter that exists today...

Per chaiwala, Gripen could not even take off with full fuel load from Leh during mmrca trial, forget any other payload.

Even the other MMRCA contender aircrafts had to undergo fuel system changes to operate from leh

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Re: Tejas Mk.1 & Mk.1A: News & Discussions: 23 February 2019

Postby srai » 26 May 2020 17:11

^^^
That was the point I was trying to make (but was misunderstood by the poster replying). Extreme conditions of specific localities are not necessarily part of the original requirements if those conditions don’t exist in the host country developing the fighter. Little benefit for extra costs to the host nation. What happens afterwards is when international sales occur lessons learned from operating in different customer environments are then gradually incorporated to meet all operational requirements. It’s one thing to deploy for a short duration and yet another altogether to permanently base in a new locality which the original host designer nation doesn’t have.

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Re: Tejas Mk.1 & Mk.1A: News & Discussions: 23 February 2019

Postby Rakesh » 26 May 2020 18:49

https://twitter.com/writetake/status/12 ... 03616?s=20 ---> What's your take on Tejas second squadron getting formed? Please DM your views and the best two I shall embed in my report. Also remember to leave your full name, profession and city. Remember to share original thoughts and not CCP. Thank You.

https://twitter.com/Skbanbotra/status/1 ... 72032?s=20 ---> Building more Tejas is a superior option for us. Produce nearly to 16 - 20 per year from 2021 will help to form two more squadrons till 2024 till Mk1A will come. Mk1A should have more upgrades related to EO senors like OSF, IRST will help to gain a better edge against PLAAF.

https://twitter.com/KSingh_1469/status/ ... 38499?s=20 ---> There’s absolutely 0 issues from the production side to do that. HAL as lead production agency has created sufficient capacity along with their private sector partners to deliver 16++/year. Issue is 100% the lack of orders. As of now HAL only has 20+20 orders for LCA.

https://twitter.com/Skbanbotra/status/1 ... 30560?s=20 ---> Tejas Mk1A will never get more orders due to its light category and IAF wants medium fighters like Rafale and MWF. But if the squadron strength is the problem then additional Tejas Mk1A, additional 18 - 24 Rafales and MKIs can easily add 10 squadron in next 5 - 7 years without delays.

https://twitter.com/KSingh_1469/status/ ... 57825?s=20 ---> Which is the absurdity of the entire situation and shows how IAF has been moving the goalposts all the way through. Initially LCA was meant only to be a cheap and simple MIG-21 replacement for the interceptor role. Now IAF is asking for a Rafale “lite” effectively.

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Re: Tejas Mk.1 & Mk.1A: News & Discussions: 23 February 2019

Postby Rakesh » 26 May 2020 19:01

https://twitter.com/AtuL1617___/status/ ... 50656?s=20 ----> HERE in this picture, we can clearly measure the payload weight fitted on LCA —

* 2 x 1,500 = 3,000-Kg
* 2 x 118 = 236-Kg
* 2 x 105 = 210-Kg
* External Fuel = 700 - 750 Kg

Total Payload — approx 4,200+ Kg

Image

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Re: Tejas Mk.1 & Mk.1A: News & Discussions: 23 February 2019

Postby Rakesh » 26 May 2020 21:07

Khalsa wrote:Cross Posting from the MRCA Thread and I have slightly tweaked the sub-points.
Indranil wrote:Next time somebody asks you:

1. Is manufacturing MWF in 2028 okay?
Answer: Tell them that IF MMRCA is to be signed in 2020, its production would conclude in 2032 and that is deemed as okay !

1.b If the Gripen in chosen, its certification wouldn't conclude by 2023. But that is okay too !

2. Is producing 16 aircrafts per year for an 83 aircraft order okay?
Answer: Tell them 114 aircrafts over 12 years was deemed to be okay !

@Admiral. We need a special section on page 1 of this thread that captures the 101 that you and Indranil are pounding out.
We now need to infect the massess with the combination of knowledge, awareness, direction we have as a BRaves.

Vidya, Vinamrata, Veerta

Page 1 is like an encyclopedia on the program that is occurring.

If IR writes an article expanding on the above, I will most definitely add it on Page 1. I am already adding every article he (and others like him) writes on Page 1 anyway.

Like IR, there are a number of people putting up a great fight for desi maal. Here are some of their twitter profiles...

1) https://twitter.com/hvtiaf

2) https://twitter.com/writetake

3) https://twitter.com/SJha1618

4) https://twitter.com/KSingh_1469
* This guy hammers the point really well, the above three are no less though. Each one adopts a different strategy in how they get the message across.

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Re: Tejas Mk.1 & Mk.1A: News & Discussions: 23 February 2019

Postby ashishvikas » 27 May 2020 00:09

No 18 Squadron "Flying Bullets" resurrected with the LCA Tejas.
The second squadron of Tejas fighters, to be based at Sulur in TamilNadu, will see these homegrown birds inducted tomorrow.

https://twitter.com/delhidefence/status ... 1711962113

Image

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Re: Tejas Mk.1 & Mk.1A: News & Discussions: 23 February 2019

Postby Rakesh » 27 May 2020 00:21

OH MY GOODNESS. THAT IS GORGEOUSIIIII :eek:

Ashish Saar, every time you post, you make us jingos happy. Sau Saal Jiyo!!!

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Re: Tejas Mk.1 & Mk.1A: News & Discussions: 23 February 2019

Postby Shameek » 27 May 2020 00:26

:D Fantastic news! Blue skies to them.

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Re: Tejas Mk.1 & Mk.1A: News & Discussions: 23 February 2019

Postby Vamsee » 27 May 2020 00:54

Flying Bullets Is Also Set To Become The Second IAF Tejas Squadron

The Flying Bullets will be commanded by Group Captain Manish Tolani, a veteran of the LCA Project and someone who was till recently the Flight Commander of the No.45 ‘Flying Daggers’, currently the only operational Tejas squadron in the IAF.

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Re: Tejas Mk.1 & Mk.1A: News & Discussions: 23 February 2019

Postby Rakesh » 27 May 2020 01:05

Page 1 updated with the CO's name. Vamsee Saar, much thanks to you.

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Re: Tejas Mk.1 & Mk.1A: News & Discussions: 23 February 2019

Postby Rakesh » 27 May 2020 01:10

Waiting for the day when No 18 Flying Bullets Squadron - flying the Tejas - takes over from No 51 Sword Arms Squadron in the air defence of the Srinagar Valley. That is where Flying Officer Nirmal Jit Singh Sekhon achieved immortality and lived up to the IAF's motto of Tejas Tejasvi Namaham (Touch the Sky with Glory).

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Re: Tejas Mk.1 & Mk.1A: News & Discussions: 23 February 2019

Postby Kartik » 27 May 2020 01:22

Vamsee wrote:Flying Bullets Is Also Set To Become The Second IAF Tejas Squadron

The Flying Bullets will be commanded by Group Captain Manish Tolani, a veteran of the LCA Project and someone who was till recently the Flight Commander of the No.45 ‘Flying Daggers’, currently the only operational Tejas squadron in the IAF.


Excellent!

And love the new No.18 'Flying Bullets' patch!

Image

Now, if they only apply that shade of grey uniformly for the entire aircraft instead of the two tone grey. :(

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Re: Tejas Mk.1 & Mk.1A: News & Discussions: 23 February 2019

Postby Kartik » 27 May 2020 03:50

Beautiful image of SP-17 coming in to land, courtesy HVT. Notice the IFR probe has been removed. As HVT stated, it is tested both with and without the probe.

Image

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Re: Tejas Mk.1 & Mk.1A: News & Discussions: 23 February 2019

Postby Raman » 27 May 2020 04:24

Rakesh wrote:... lived up to the IAF's motto of Tejas Tejasvi Namaham (Touch the Sky with Glory).


Small correction:
- Tejas Tejasvi Namaham - I am the glory of the glorious. TACDE
- Nabhah Sparsham Deeptam - Touch the sky with glory. IAF

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Re: Tejas Mk.1 & Mk.1A: News & Discussions: 23 February 2019

Postby rahul_r » 27 May 2020 04:52

Then Wing Commander Tolani is featured in this HT video from 2017 when he was part of the Flying Daggers

2.40sec mark




Vamsee wrote:Flying Bullets Is Also Set To Become The Second IAF Tejas Squadron

The Flying Bullets will be commanded by Group Captain Manish Tolani, a veteran of the LCA Project and someone who was till recently the Flight Commander of the No.45 ‘Flying Daggers’, currently the only operational Tejas squadron in the IAF.

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Re: Tejas Mk.1 & Mk.1A: News & Discussions: 23 February 2019

Postby Aditya_V » 27 May 2020 11:21

Kartik wrote:Beautiful image of SP-17 coming in to land, courtesy HVT. Notice the IFR probe has been removed. As HVT stated, it is tested both with and without the probe.



So its really Bolt on Bolt IFR probe, there was a debate on this a few pages back.

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Re: Tejas Mk.1 & Mk.1A: News & Discussions: 23 February 2019

Postby ashishvikas » 27 May 2020 11:28

To all #Tejas fans out there -- this is piping hot SP22. #AvGeeks

https://twitter.com/writetake/status/12 ... 90272?s=20

Image

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Re: Tejas Mk.1 & Mk.1A: News & Discussions: 23 February 2019

Postby Aditya_V » 27 May 2020 11:28

Mean while, I hope this chance becomes a reality

https://twitter.com/writetake/status/1265487978949943296?cxt=HGwWgIC1zZWn9Y8jAAAA

Anantha Krishnan M Flag of India
@writetake
·
1h
There are chances that CAS ACM RKS Bhadauria MIGHT fly #Tejas at #AFSSulur today to mark the operationalisation of No 18 Sqn #FlyingBullets.

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Re: Tejas Mk.1 & Mk.1A: News & Discussions: 23 February 2019

Postby Kartik » 27 May 2020 11:34

ashishvikas wrote:To all #Tejas fans out there -- this is piping hot SP22. #AvGeeks

https://twitter.com/writetake/status/12 ... 90272?s=20

Image


Beautiful! Hasn't yet conducted it's first flight though, AFAIK. So will still be at HAL Bangalore and most likely won't be seen at AFS Sulur, where No.18 Squadron's raising ceremony will be conducted.

Big day for IAF and HAL as new Tejas squadron takes off today

Anantha Krishnan's article on the re-raising of No.18 Squadron and Sulur AFS has some good new info..For instance, the second-line servicing for Tejas fighters has been set up so they don't depend on HAL anymore for that. Apparently, the servicing is done every 250 hours or annually, probably whichever comes first.

The IAF taking over the second line maintenance of Tejas fighters from HAL before full overhaul is a big step. Will need to also be set up at other air bases where Tejas fighters will be based in the north. But for now, even Tejas fighters based up north can travel back to Sulur AFS for their 250 hour or annual overhaul.
Last edited by Kartik on 27 May 2020 11:51, edited 2 times in total.

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Re: Tejas Mk.1 & Mk.1A: News & Discussions: 23 February 2019

Postby ashishvikas » 27 May 2020 11:42

IAF chief Air Chief Marshal RKS Bhadauria flew a Tejas jet this morning.

Photos just in from Sulur where the 2nd LCA squadron is being raised.

https://t.co/udGt4KmAa2

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Re: Tejas Mk.1 & Mk.1A: News & Discussions: 23 February 2019

Postby Aditya_V » 27 May 2020 12:38

Kartik wrote:
Beautiful! Hasn't yet conducted it's first flight though, AFAIK. So will still be at HAL Bangalore and most likely won't be seen at AFS Sulur, where No.18 Squadron's raising ceremony will be conducted.

Big day for IAF and HAL as new Tejas squadron takes off today

A.


Another quote from the Article is slightly disappointing

HAL now hopes to deliver the entire block of 16 FOC fighters to IAF by September 2022.

“We are currently extending post-delivery and warranty support for the Initial Operational Clearance(IOC) fleet. The Tejas MK1A delivery will commence in FY 2023-24 at a rate of 16 aircraft per year,”says an official

HAL has already delivered 16 Tejas IOC variants till date to IAF. In the next two years,HAL will have to roll out 16 FOC Tejas fighters and eight trainers for the IAF.

The next two fighters Tejas SP-22 and Tejas SP-23 are expected to join Flying Bullets in the next one month.


The sentence Bolded is a bit contradictory, if HAL produces 16 FOC single seat fighters till September 2022- how is going to Deliver 24 aircraft in FY 20-21 and 21-22

The paras below this seem to indicate
FY20-21 - Roll out 12 FOC Tejas
FY21-22 - Roll out 4 FOC Tejas and 8 trainers
FY22-23 - 10 Tejas MK1A trainers which will be FOC standard + any Naval Tejas for training say 2
FY23-24 onwards till FY 27-28 slightly into FY 28-29 Deliver Mk1A single seat fighters before moving on to MWF.

This time line is bit frustrating since we need these along with Naval Tejas, MWF, TEDBF and AMCA programmes to also happen.

Keepign my Fingers crossed, hope the production is increased with some Naval Tejas, more FOC standard Mk1's and more MK1A's are ordered quickly with Astra Mk1 and Mk2 integration and while simultanously prototypes for Mk1A, TEDBF, MWF and AMCA operate.

Come on someone please make the right decisions behind the scenes

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Re: Tejas Mk.1 & Mk.1A: News & Discussions: 23 February 2019

Postby Bhaskar_T » 27 May 2020 15:32

HAL Official Twitter handle tweets that first FOC Tejas is handed over and inducted into IAF, shows an official letter mentioning the extra capabilities (air to air refuelling capability, close combat gun, additional drop tanks, BVR missile capability, updated avionics and FCS suite) than the IOC version. A historic day! I think in the pictures is the CMD HAL Madhavan handing over documents to CAS.

Images below are from LiveFist and Tarmak007 Twitter accounts.

@HALHQBLR, 27 May 2020, 2:30PM IST

HAL Produced FOC Standard LCAs Join IAF Stable @drajaykumar_ias @DefProdnIndia @SpokespersonMoD @PTI_News @IAF_MCC @gopalsutar


https://twitter.com/HALHQBLR/status/1265568462992261127?s=19

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This patch is mentioned on Tarmak007 Twitter.

Image

This second patch is mentioned, on LiveFist Twitter, as one of the official one to be seen soon on uniforms.

Image

PS1 - I would love to produce that letter here as an image but I am afraid if I upload that image to any popular site such as "imgbb", it might get deleted in few months. So, please provide education, where do you upload pictures and how? (In old times, like a decade ago, the page 1 of Dhaaga used to have those details). Admins, Mods - Kindly help.

PS2 - Thank you BalaVignesh and Bharadwaj.
Last edited by Bhaskar_T on 27 May 2020 17:21, edited 5 times in total.

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Re: Tejas Mk.1 & Mk.1A: News & Discussions: 23 February 2019

Postby Bharadwaj » 27 May 2020 15:41

^^^^^^

That side on image of 5018 should be the first thing anybody sees when they open this thread :mrgreen:

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Re: Tejas Mk.1 & Mk.1A: News & Discussions: 23 February 2019

Postby Bala Vignesh » 27 May 2020 15:52

Bhaskar_T flickr is a good option for this, along with any other photo hosting site like 500px. Even Google photo works, but imyou have specifically assign seperate security property for the photo to be public.

A red letter day for us, with the induction of the FOC Tejas!! Time to deploy the lungis!!

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Re: Tejas Mk.1 & Mk.1A: News & Discussions: 23 February 2019

Postby Rakesh » 27 May 2020 17:30

Raman wrote:
Rakesh wrote:... lived up to the IAF's motto of Tejas Tejasvi Namaham (Touch the Sky with Glory).


Small correction:
- Tejas Tejasvi Namaham - I am the glory of the glorious. TACDE
- Nabhah Sparsham Deeptam - Touch the sky with glory. IAF

Aiyoo :oops:

You are correct.

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Re: Tejas Mk.1 & Mk.1A: News & Discussions: 23 February 2019

Postby Rakesh » 27 May 2020 17:32

I need to add SP-22 to page 1, but waiting for first flight. How many aircraft were handed over today? Four?

ashishvikas wrote:To all #Tejas fans out there -- this is piping hot SP22. #AvGeeks

https://twitter.com/writetake/status/12 ... 90272?s=20

Image

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Re: Tejas Mk.1 & Mk.1A: News & Discussions: 23 February 2019

Postby Sridhar K » 27 May 2020 22:54

Will the first 4 ac of 18 squadron a mix of 3 IOC plus one FOC?

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Re: Tejas Mk.1 & Mk.1A: News & Discussions: 23 February 2019

Postby Kartik » 27 May 2020 22:58

Rakesh wrote:I need to add SP-22 to page 1, but waiting for first flight. How many aircraft were handed over today? Four?

ashishvikas wrote:To all #Tejas fans out there -- this is piping hot SP22. #AvGeeks

https://twitter.com/writetake/status/12 ... 90272?s=20

Image


With SP-18 not having had it's first flight as yet, it couldn't have flown to Sulur. So only SP-17 was handed over. The other aircraft all are from No.45 Squadron. SP-18, 19 should be handed over to the No.18 Squadron in a month or so.

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Re: Tejas Mk.1 & Mk.1A: News & Discussions: 23 February 2019

Postby Kartik » 27 May 2020 23:02

More images from IAF's Twitter

OPERATIONALISATION OF 18 SQN:
18 Squadron, the "Flying Bullets" was operationalised by CAS ACM RKS Bhadauria at AFS Sulur today. The Sqn has a distinguished history of having Fg Offr Nirmal Jeet Singh Sekhon PVC (P) on its honour roll.


Twitter link

Image

HAL CMD R Madhavan handing over the FOC documents to the IAF Chief

During the ceremony, aircraft documents of the Tejas FOC were handed over by HAL CMD to the CAS & further to the Commanding Officer of 18 Sqn.


Image

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Group Captain Manish Tolani, CO of No.18 Squadron
Image

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Re: Tejas Mk.1 & Mk.1A: News & Discussions: 23 February 2019

Postby Kartik » 27 May 2020 23:05

The No.18 Squadron patch that ACM RKS Bhadauria is wearing is slightly different than the published on Twitter by Anantha Krishnan.

Image

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Re: Tejas Mk.1 & Mk.1A: News & Discussions: 23 February 2019

Postby Rakesh » 27 May 2020 23:35

Excellent set of pictures Kartik. You always manage to find the best set out there, whether in Tejas dhaaga or Rafale dhaaga. Thank You.

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Re: Tejas Mk.1 & Mk.1A: News & Discussions: 23 February 2019

Postby Rakesh » 27 May 2020 23:37

Turbulence: How we almost lost Tejas
https://www.asianage.com/ideas/turbulen ... -tejas-187
24 May 2016

By B. R. SRIKANTH

On May 17, a group of Indian Air Force’s finest were gathered around in a room buzzing with radio transmissions and lined with consoles. There was nervousness in the air and frowns on faces. Their day in Bengaluru had started according to plan. India would witness the performance of the Tejas fighter jet, their boss, Air Chief Marshal Arup Raha, would be flying in it for the first time, he would take over controls halfway into the 30-minute flight and the jet itself would be flown by ace pilot Group Captain Madhav Rangachari.

But as Group Captain Rangachari fired up the engines of the twin-seat trainer version, Air Chief Marshal Raha, from the rear seat threw up a surprise. He told the pilot he would take over completely — take off, check the jet’s agility, throw it into dives, pick a ‘target’ and then return to Bengaluru’s HAL aiport. And as the group of stunned IAF officers in command & control stared into monitors, their boss shot off in the direction of Krishnagiri in Tamil Nadu, 90 kilometres away, picked a dam as the ‘ground target’, simulated a strike, tossed the jet around with one of the moves generating a body-crushing 5Gs and then headed back to Bengaluru for a smooth landing.

The Air Chief Marshal was flying after 17 years and in command & control many were looking around for chairs to sit. Because besides the relief, there was much joy. For those who had worked on the plane, this day was once a waking dream. Tejas, and its May 17 flight, is the result of over 30 years of work and through those three decades, the plane’s engineers endured unending taunts and even threats of imprisonment. Dr V.S. Arunachalam, a former scientific adviser to the defence minister and chief of DRDO remembers the day they almost lost the plane.

“At one meeting in 1991, chaired by then Defence Minister Sharad Pawar, MP Suresh Kalmadi, said we should be sent behind bars because he had found large-scale misappropriation of funds. But Ratan Tata, who was invited to the meeting along with other industrialists had a contrary opinion. Tata told the minister that we had chosen the best technology and if for some reason the government wished to scrap the project, the Tata Group would take over and make the aircraft themselves. Pawar then decided to support us as many others had agreed with Tata,” he says.

India’s Light Combat Aircraft (LCA) programme (christened ‘Tejas’ by former Prime Minister A.B. Vajpayee later) began when Indira Gandhi was furious with the Soviets for playing truant while supplying spares for fighter aircraft. Soon, the challenge to make a jet for ourselves, fell on the shoulders of Dr Arunachalam and just about 300 others. They would face much of the bureaucratic hell Indian innovation was during its earliest years. His successor, the late Dr A.P.J Abdul Kalam too, faced problems while steering the project. A major blow came in 1998 — after India’s nuclear tests in Pokhran. Two companies —Lockheed Martin and General Electric — who had agreed to provide expertise to the LCA project pulled their engineers out after a US technology embargo. Their ejection turned the clock back by four years for the project.

The plane first flew on January 4, 2001. “One of the early jokes was that LCA stood for ‘Last chance for Arunachalam’. And when I took over (as Chief of DRDO), they said it was Last Chance for Aatre. Today, critics are all quiet,” says Dr Vasudev Aatre, who headed DRDO when ‘Tejas’ made that first flight 15 years ago. Also, for Air Marshal Philip Rajkumar (Retd), who served as a formidable bridge between IAF and DRDO, and later as project director, the fact that Tejas clocked close to 3,000 hours without a single snag is a formidable achievement. He now wants more of these planes inducted as soon as possible. He joins Air Chief Marshal Raha and many others who believe the Tejas has become, an asset.

And to think we almost lost the plane to mountains of paperwork and Suresh Kalmadi’s accounting.


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