HAL’s Tejas Mark 1A takes maiden flight, boosting India’s indigenous combat aircraft programme

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New Delhi: Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL) on Thursdayachieved a significant milestone as it successfully conducted the inaugural flight of the indigenous Light Combat Aircraft (LCA) Tejas Mark 1A fighter jet in Bengaluru. The Tejas Mark 1A fighter aircraft, boasting over 65% indigenous components, stands as a testament to India’s prowess in design, development, and manufacturing.

Positioned for deployment at the Nal airbase in Rajasthan’s Bikaner, adjacent to the Pakistan border, it is slated to be the first squadron of its kind at this strategic location. From the Nal airbase, it will effectively monitor and address threats from the western frontier.

India’s Defence Public Sector Undertaking, Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL), in collaboration with the Bengaluru-based Aeronautical Development Agency (ADA), has been conducting extensive taxi trials for the Tejas Mk-1A, also known as LCA Mk1A. On Thursday, the maiden flight, piloted by Group Capt (retd) KK Venugopal, HAL’s chief test pilot (fixed wing), lasted 18 minutes.

The Tejas Mk-1A, equipped with digital radar warning receivers, an advanced AESA radar, and beyond-visual-range (BVR) air-to-air missiles, among other enhancements, marks a significant stride in indigenous fighter jet capabilities. With HAL aiming to deliver 83 Tejas Mk-1A between March 2024 and February 2028 as per the contract worth Rs 46,898 crore, Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s flight in a trainer variant in October 2023 underscored the government’s commitment to indigenous defense production.

The Indian Air Force (IAF), recognising Tejas’s importance in bolstering its fleet, has granted acceptance for 97 more Tejas Mk-1A aircraft. Despite initial skepticism, Tejas has emerged as a symbol of India’s technological prowess, showcased in various defense exhibitions worldwide. However, the recent loss of a Tejas Mk 1 fighter aircraft to an air crash on March 12 highlights the challenges amidst its developmental journey.

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