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Vajpayee names LCA as 'Tejas'
Fakir Chand in Bangalore |
May 04, 2003 16:03 IST
Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee has christened the Light Combat Aircraft as 'Tejas'.
At a glittering ceremony on a hot Sunday in Bangalore, Vajpayee witnessed the flying display of the LCA's two prototypes, Technology Demonstrator-I and Technology Demonstrator-II, for about 10 minutes and chose Tejas [radiance], one of the 20 Sanskrit names short-listed.
"I am confident that this world-class fighting machine will make a glorious contribution to the nation's defence. I am happy to name it Tejas. May it bring glory to our aerospace industry," Vajpayee said while addressing about 500 people at the Hindustan Aeronautics Limited airport.
Deputy Prime Minister Lal Kishenchand Advani, Defence Minister George Fernandes, chief of air staff Air Chief Marshall S Krishnaswamy and Scientific Advisor to the defence minister V K Aatre were among those present.
Cruising at a speed of 600km/h and climbing to a height of 250feet, both the prototypes, codenamed Delta-I and Delta-II, flew in close formation and conducted breathtaking manoeuvres, including crisscrossing in midair, teardrop turns, waggle wings, and zoom pull-ups.
Group Captain Rakesh Bhaduria flew Delta-I while Squadron Leader Sunit Krishna flew the other. Both of them drew repeated applause for their superb skills and perfect landing.
Rolling out the first Pilot Vehicle of the LCA after witnessing the flights, Vajpayee said the aircraft, which is currently fitted with American engines [GE-404], would soon be powered with the indigenously built Kaveri.
"The aircraft will have 75-80 per cent indigenous components. The nation salutes the dedicated teams of the Aeronautical Development Agency, the Hindustan Aeronautics Ltd, the National Aerospace Laboratories and the Defence Research and Development Organisation for their motivation, innovation and dedication," Vajpayee said.
"The doubters thought it made sense to import a similar aircraft, though under existing technology denial regimes we would have to settle for less sophisticated models.
"Today, we can say that the delay was worth it. Our scientists and engineers had to reinvent… but they have designed, tested and produced a world-class machine, which our air force can fly with pride and confidence."
Commending the Indian aerospace industry for the indigenous development of the LCA, the Advanced Light Helicopter and the Intermediate Jet Trainer, Krishnaswamy said the aircraft was a world-class weapon of war.
"I have been associated with the LCA project since its inception over 18 years ago and was a witness to its trials and tribulations. India can be proud of producing such a best-in-class aircraft," Krishnaswamy said.
Aatre said the two technology demonstrators have so far conducted 75 test flights. In all, the project involves 225 flights, including training flights by IAF pilots with the five vehicles that are currently under production.
"The Pilot Vehicle-I, which will take to skies this July, will breach the sound barrier and go at supersonic speed. The IAF has placed an order with the HAL to produce 8 LCAs for induction by the end of the current decade," Aatre said.
After the display of Delta-I and Delta-II, five ALH took to skies, followed by the IJT.