BANGALORE: The Indian Air Force got a step closer to inducting a home-grown fighter jet into its squadron when the first Tejas series production (SP-1) aircraft kissed the skies on Tuesday.
Military sources confirmed to Express that during the 25-minute flight, Tejas SP-1 touched a maximum speed of 0.6 Mach, copying textbook manoeuvres befitting a maiden outing. The sole take-away from this flight was the fact that there was no telemetry support to the pilot. Built by Hindustan Aeronautics Ltd and designed by Aeronautical Development Agency, the Tejas SP-1 was flown by seasoned Test Pilot Air Commodore (Retd) K A Muthanna, with a Hawk trainer as the chase aircraft. “We did the High Speed Taxi Trial on Monday and the test results were flawless. During today’s flight, the pilot had no link-up with the telemetry team during the entire duration of the flight. This is a first for the programme, similar to what happens while in a squadron scenario,” an official associated with project said.
The build of the Tejas SP-1 seems to have given the team huge confidence to go for the maiden flight. “We had no corrections to make before and after the flight. This is different from what we were used to on earlier occasions. The production version aircraft is definitely superior on all fronts. We will resume the flight on SP-1 after a week,” the official said.
While the programme has to travel some more distance before the much-awaited induction into the IAF, two Tejas aircraft from the flight test programme are currently in Jaisalmer undertaking bombing missions. “New weapons (250 kg and 450 kg bombs) are being integrated into the aircraft. The Angle of Attack is also coming closer to 26 degrees, which helps the pilot to undertake carefree manoeuvring. In the next three months, we are also lining up the aircraft to fire some new missiles as well,” the official said.