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PHOTOS: India's Tejas flexes its muscles at Bahrain air show

January 23, 2016 21:08 IST

India’s indigenous Light Combat Aircraft Tejas on Saturday for the first time participated in an international air show, an event witnessed by External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj in the Bahraini capital.

India Air Force's Tejas participates at the Bahrain air show. Photograph: @SpokespersonMoD/Twitter 

Swaraj, who is here on a two-day visit to attend the first ministerial meeting of the India-Arab League Cooperation Forum on Sunday, went for the air show immediately after landing at the Bahrain International Airport.

On the sidelines of the Bahrain International Air show at Sakhir Airbase, Swaraj also called on Bahrain’s King Hamad bin Isa Al Khalifa. She, along with the king, also watched the Sarang helicopter team of the Indian Air Force in action. 

After the indigenously-developed Dhruv helicopter -- part of the Sarang team -- demonstrated its capabilities in the skies with four helicopters mesmerising the huge crowd gathered at the event, Tejas took flight for the first time at an international air show.

The Tejas captivated the audience with its display in the skies.  Photograph: @SpokespersonMoD/Twitter 

Swaraj also visited the India pavilion at the air show where the scientists gave the minister a briefing on Tejas.

The Tejas flight was hailed by officials present here as a “historic event” as the country hopes to explore potential export opportunities.

Tejas -- a single-seat, single-jet engine, highly agile multi-role light fighter developed by the Defence Research and Development Organisation and the Hindustan Aeronautics Limited -- captivated the audience at the air show with its display in the skies.

The Sarang helicopter also participated at the Bahrain Air show. Photograph:  Bahrain International Airshow/Facebook

Tejas, which had been in the making for over three decades, is a 4.5 generation aircraft with supersonic capability at all altitudes. The aircraft is tailless and has a compound delta wing design powered by a single engine.

It came from the Light Combat Aircraft programme, which began in the 1980s to replace India’s ageing MiG-21 fighters. Later, the LCA was officially named “Tejas” meaning “Radiant” by the then Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee.

On January 17, 2015, the first Tejas was officially inducted into the Indian Air Force, that plans to acquire 120 Tejas aircraft, with 100 of them having some major modifications. It wants better radar, new electronic warfare suit, refuelling capacity and improved missiles.

DHL's Twisters & Extra 300 perform during the second day of the Bahrain Air Show 2016 at Sakhir, Bahrain. Photograph: Hamad I Mohammed/Reuters

Team Sarang of the IAF showcased the nation’s prowess by flying ALH Dhruv helicopter designed and developed by HAL. Sarang Helicopter Display Team, is the Brand Ambassador of Indian Air Force since 2003.

The team’s maiden public display was at Singapore in the year 2004 and has performed at various international forums at Chile, UAE, Berlin, United Kingdom besides numerous venues in India.

Saudi Hawks perform during the second day of the Bahrain Air Show. Photograph: Hamad I Mohammed/Reuters

The DRDO, along with some of its production partners also displayed India’s strength in advanced defence technology areas, with the aim of exploring the potential of exporting these advanced systems to friendly countries in the region.

The display of India’s defence technology comes at a time when the government is giving a strong push to its flagship ‘Make in India’ programme. 

Asim Kamal
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