Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi took a sortie on Saturday in an indigenous Tejas light combat aircraft, set to replace the Soviet-designed MiG-21 in the Indian Air Force.
Modi boarded a twin-seat trainer variant of the Tejas in the southern city of Bengaluru, while reviewing the work of defense company Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL) at its manufacturing base.
Writing on X (formerly Twitter), Modi described the flight as “incredibly enriching, significantly bolstering my confidence in our country’s indigenous capabilities, and leaving me with a renewed sense of pride and optimism about our national potential.”
The multirole Tejas fighters are set to replace India’s ageing fleet of MiG-21s, which have been the backbone of the Air Force for decades.
Along with developing the Tejas Mark 1 and Mark 2 fighters, work is also underway to build a fifth-generation fighter to rival the US F-35, named the HAL Advanced Medium Combat Aircraft (AMCA).
Successfully completed a sortie on the Tejas. The experience was incredibly enriching, significantly bolstering my confidence in our country’s indigenous capabilities, and leaving me with a renewed sense of pride and optimism about our national potential. pic.twitter.com/4aO6Wf9XYO
— Narendra Modi (@narendramodi) November 25, 2023
Prime Minister Modi has set indigenous arms production one of his administration’s core goals. India’s Defense Acquisition Council in September approved nine proposals to buy equipment worth a combined 450 billion rupees ($5.41 billion) from domestic manufacturers. The package included the purchase of 12 Russian-designed Sukhoi Su-30 MKI fighter jets to be built by HAL. At present, India is the world’s largest arms importer and sources 54% of its weapons and military equipment from Russia.
According to a report in The Hindustan Times, HAL is also set to begin work on jointly designing and developing helicopter engines with the French company Safran, and is negotiating a deal for the joint production of fighter jet engines with the US firm GE Aerospace.
In the coming days, the company is likely to secure further contracts, as New Delhi seeks to buy more fighter jets and light combat helicopters, and to upgrade its existing fleet of Sukhoi-30 multirole aircraft.
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