Bengaluru: A day after it was declared combat ready, and General Bipin Rawat described it as a “wonderful aircraft” at the end of a 40-minute sortie, Hindustan Aeronautics Ltd (HAL) said it would explore the $multi-billion global market for exporting the military jet as some enquiries have arrived from countries in South-east Asian region and African nations.
“We are going to display this aircraft in some international air shows later this year, but we haven’t decided when to test fly ‘Tejas’ in countries from where we have received enquiries,” Chairman & Managing Director R Madhavan said at Aero India 2019 on Thursday.
The first army chief to fly this light combat aircraft, General Rawat said he had an experience of a lifetime flying it. “If it gets added to the inventory, it will add to air power. From what I could witness, the avionics are very good, the targeting is very good,” he added.
While addressing the media, Mr Madhavan countered the remarks of minister of state for external affairs V.K. Singh, post the crash of upgraded Mirage 2000 earlier this month in Bengaluru, saying he incident was not the way it was reported in the media and he would wait for the completion of court of inquiry. “Our capabilities are on par with anybody else. There is no shortage on these fronts. Anyone can make such comments. There were media reports after the Mirage crash, but we decided not to say anything until the CoI (court of inquiry) is complete,” he said, adding, “The crash was not the way it was reported in the media and people have blamed HAL without knowing the full facts.”
The minister had remarked “Look at the condition of HAL. Our two pilots died. Sorry to say, but programmes at HAL are running late by three-and-a-half years. Parts of aircraft are falling off on the runway. Is this capability? On the other hand, we say that HAL is not getting the (Rafale) work,” he had said while commenting on the death of two test pilots, Squadron Leader Samir Abrol and Squadron Leader Sidhharth Negi, both ace test pilots of Aircraft and Systems Testing Establishment (ASTE).
Day two of Aero India also witnessed announcements by two aerospace majors Boeing and SAAB of Sweden about partnerships with Indian companies to create the ecosystem and world class infrastructure for manufacture of next generation Block III F-18 Super Hornet and Gripen military jets respectively....