New Delhi, Sep 19, 2019 : Wearing a G-suit, Rajnath Singh buckled himself into the light combat aircraft (LCA) Tejas in Bengaluru this morning, becoming the first Defence Minister to fly in the made-in-India fighter jet. The aircraft took off from the HAL airport in Bengaluru, NDTV reported.
Mr Singh, 68, walked up to the aircraft along with the pilot, climbed up the steps and strapped himself in the backseat, behind the pilot. Wearing a white helmet and an oxygen mask, the Defence Minister was seen waving before the twin-seater version of Tejas took off for a 30-minute sortie. He was briefed by the pilot and other top Indian Air Force (IAF) officials. Air Vice Marshal N Tiwari was among the officers who walked him up to the jet.
"All set for the day," Mr Singh had tweeted earlier, sharing two photos.
Last Friday, Tejas became the first aircraft in India to successfully perform an "arrested landing" in Goa, in what is being billed as a major step in the programme to make the jet ready for service with the Navy.
The Indian Air Force (IAF) has already inducted a batch of Tejas aircraft. The naval version of the LCA is in development stage.
Mr Singh will also attend an exhibition of products of the Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) in Bengaluru.
Initially, the IAF had placed an order with the Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL) for 40 Tejas aircraft. Last year, the IAF issued the request for proposal to HAL for the procurement of another batch of 83 Tejas at a cost of over Rs. 50,000 crore.
In January this year, Nirmala Sitharaman, who was the Defence Minister in Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s previous government, became the second Indian woman leader to go on a sortie on a Sukhoi-30 fighter jet.