Tejas, a tale of India’s nascent aerospace system with a happy ending

By The Print

In a boost to India’s fledgling domestic aerospace ecosystem, the Cabinet Committee on Security cleared the Rs 48,000-crore deal for 83 Light Combat Aircraft Tejas, which included 73 Mark 1A versions, on 13 January.

The first big order to the state-run Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL) for Tejas, which will become the backbone of the Indian Air Force (IAF) in the coming years, is a landmark in the aircraft’s journey of over three and a half decades.

It is a culmination of India’s effort to build a frontline fighter aircraft, which began in the 1950s. It was in 1961 that HAL’s HF-24 Marut, designed by Kurt Tank, the German aeronautical engineer who built the Luftwaffe aircraft in World War II, first flew.

And that’s why Tejas is ThePrint’s Newsmaker of the Week.

It was in 1983 when the government of India rolled out the project to build a new LCA as a replacement for the Russian MiG 21s, which continue to fly despite the fleet being obsolete.

The plan was to release the first aircraft by 1994. However, the first prototype of LCA flew only in 2001 — 18 years after the project started.

It was then that Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee christened the LCA as the Tejas.

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