BENGALURU: "I was very thrilled." These words sum up Union Defence Rajnath Singh's Tejas experience on Thursday.
Reposing his faith in India's indigenously-built light combat aircraft (LCA) Mk 1, Singh sortied for 25 minutes alongside Air Vice Marshal N Tiwari and also became the first defence minister in the country to fly in Tejas.
The defence minister of Singapore is said to have flown a similar configuration of the LCA earlier.
"To sum up the entire experience, I was very thrilled, " said the minister who also given the opportunity to control the aircraft for a few minutes.
"I chose Tejas because of my curiosity. It is an indigenous project and I wanted to experience in what conditions our air force flies these fighter planes.
The pilot flew the envelope to 2.5 G (against gravity). "We were showing him the avionics, sophistication onboard and the laser designation pod where you can pick up targets from a distance of 25 km, said Dr G Satheesh Reddy, Secretary, Department of Defence R&D.
"We went close to Mach 1, the speed of sound," said N Tiwari, the lead pilot.
"I did as I was told by Tiwari," Singh, wearing a G Suite, holding his helmet under his arms and sporting aviator glasses, said about his co-piloting experience at a 13,000 km altitude.
Flying on ‘Tejas’, an Indigenous Light Combat Aircraft from Bengaluru’s HAL Airport was an amazing and exhilarating experience.— Rajnath Singh (@rajnathsingh) September 19, 2019
Tejas is a multi-role fighter with several critical capabilities. It is meant to strengthen India’s air defence capabilities. pic.twitter.com/jT95afb0O7
As a shot in the arm for HAL, 83 LCAs that are being ordered by the defence ministry have reached the final stage of price negotiations, Singh confirmed.