In a historic milestone, Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi soared through the skies in the indigenously designed, developed, and manufactured Tejas Twin Seat Light Combat Fighter aircraft in Bengaluru on the 25th of November. The sortie took off from the Aircraft Systems Testing Establishment, Bengaluru, showcasing the capabilities of the Tejas fighter aircraft to the PM during the 30-minute flight. This remarkable event marks the first time an Indian Prime Minister has experienced a fighter aircraft sortie, and PM Modi described the encounter as truly memorable.
As a staunch advocate for AATAM_NIRBHAR_BHARAT in defense manufacturing, PM Modi commended the scientists, engineers, and flight test crew who played pivotal roles in the design, development, and production of this state-of-the-art fighter aircraft. His pride in the capabilities of Indian engineers and scientists echoed through his words.
The LCA trainer, a lightweight, all-weather, multirole aircraft, not only encompasses all the roles of a single-seat Tejas fighter but also serves as a fighter trainer. This groundbreaking achievement marks the first instance of an indigenous twin-seat fighter being conceptualized, developed, and manufactured in India. Infused with contemporary concepts and technologies such as quadruplex fly-by-wire flight control, carefree maneuvering, advanced glass cockpit, integrated digital avionics systems, and the use of advanced composite materials for the airframe, Tejas stands as a symbol of cutting-edge aeronautical prowess. The fighter aircraft has significantly bolstered the nation’s defense capabilities and preparedness.
Since the conceptual stage, the IAF test crew has been integral to the Tejas project, leading up to its induction into the IAF in 2016. Currently, two fully operational squadrons, 45 Squadron and 18 Squadron fly the LCA Tejas. With an order worth Rs 36,468 Crore for the delivery of 83 LCA Mk 1A aircraft placed with HAL, deliveries are scheduled to commence by February 2024. HAL’s production capacity is set to increase from 8 to 16 aircraft per year by 2025 and further to 24 aircraft per year in the next 3 years.
More than Rs 9000 Crore has been allocated for the development of LCA Mk 2, an upgraded and more lethal version of LCA Tejas. In a significant move towards indigenization, including the aircraft engine, the Transfer of Technology for manufacturing the GE engine in India was negotiated with GE during the Prime Minister’s visit to the US in June 2023. Looking ahead, Tejas is poised to become the largest fleet of fighter aircraft operated by the Indian Air Force. This sortie by the Prime Minister is a resounding endorsement for the aeronautics ecosystem, providing a substantial impetus to AATAM-NIRBHAR-BHARAT in the defense sector.
How does Modi stand at odds with other PMs?
Prime Minister Narendra Modi stands as a transformative leader, distinguishing himself from his predecessors through bold and visionary initiatives that have redefined India’s trajectory. His commitment to bolstering defense preparedness has been unparalleled, evident in historic moments like his recent sortie in the indigenous Tejas fighter aircraft, symbolizing a hands-on approach to security matters unprecedented in Indian political history. Modi’s strategic focus on Aatmanirbhar Bharat, fostering self-reliance across sectors, including defense manufacturing, sets him apart. Unlike past administrations, Modi’s emphasis on indigenous production, reflected in the ‘Make in India’ initiative, signifies a departure from dependency on foreign arms imports.
Under Modi’s leadership, defense modernization has seen dynamic strides, moving beyond mere acquisitions to fostering a robust ecosystem for domestic production. The allocation of significant budgets for defense, coupled with initiatives like the Defense Corridor, underscores a comprehensive vision for self-sufficiency. Modi’s commitment to a strong defense posture aligns seamlessly with his vision for a self-reliant India, ensuring not just military strength but economic resilience. This approach marks a departure from the cautious, import-dependent strategies of previous leaders, showcasing Modi’s unwavering commitment to securing India’s future through indigenous strength and innovation. Indeed, we have been blessed with a selfless leader.
(Note: The information about the allocation of money for different projects was gathered from the statement of the Indian Air Force)
The writer is a student activist and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org