Yes, It’s A Big Deal: IAF Gets First Tejas Fighter

With the media shut out, HAL quietly handed over the first series production Tejas light combat aircraft to the Indian Air Force today, marking the beginning of what will hopefully be a long series of handings over over the next few decades. With the Tejas still months away from final operational clearance, today’s ceremony — and it really was a ceremony — was mostly for the cameras (which weren’t there, so who was this for?). But seriously. For all the symbolism that today’s ‘handing-over’ was about, I’m not about to rain on the programme’s parade. Not today.

Ten years ago, when I began reporting defence, then IAF chief Air Chief Marshal S. Krishnaswamy was on his way into retirement. I ambushed him at a government event in October 2004 for a quote on the LCA Tejas, which at the time was having considerable trouble. He wasn’t happy. But he did say something no other chief did say. Not that I remember at least. He said, “I’m fed up of the to-and-fro between us and the builders of the LCA. I’m willing to accept the aircraft right now, as is. I am willing to commit my pilots to start clocking numbers on this machine. We need to spend time learning about it, not fighting about it. I am willing to make that commitment.”
He meant what he said. But he retired weeks later. And there isn’t a lot you can do after that. Not for a moment am I suggesting that there weren’t other chiefs who wanted to see the Tejas in service as soon as possible, but a book remains to be written about the schadenfreude that was the development of the Tejas. It is in that light alone, if nothing else, that the handing over of an airframe to the IAF today is an occasion that shouldn’t be made light of.
[On a separate note: I’ve been stricken by a severe allergic sinusitis, the likes of which I’ve never experienced before. I wouldn’t wish it on anyone. Anyone. Spring couldn’t be here sooner. Have a good season, all.]

31 thoughts on “Yes, It’s A Big Deal: IAF Gets First Tejas Fighter”

  1. NSR says —

    Great day for India and its IAF…

    These fighters only costs $30 millions per plane so India must go on war footing and build many for Navy and Air Force…

    No one knows when the LCA/Tejas II will come out so manufacture and block upgrade Tejas I so that when Tejas II comes up all this process will be there and there will be no delays due to lessons learned…

    Station them in many Naval Bases / Stations armed with latest anti-ship and anti-submarine missiles / torpedoes …

    A ship can't travel fast but Navy Tejas I can be there in minutes…

    It will act as a great deterrent to Pakistan and China trying to intrude into Bay of Bengal and Arabian sea…

    Whenever needed, Naval Tejas can land on Carriers and they can be available to land and conduct sorties from there…

    Air Force should not base them in Sulur, Tamilnadu…They should build at least 6 squadrons of Tejas I and place them from Rajasthan to Arunachal Pradesh…

    Tejas I can be used as a lead in fighter, quick reaction air defense fighter with 4 BVRAAMs, strike and tank formation and bunker buster fighter bomber…

    It is very cheap to scramble them than the 2 engine fighter bombers…

    Indigenize the components as much as possible…Import if needed to develop the product instead of delaying or stopping the production…

    If given priority, it will create India's aerospace industry and high paying jobs which is boon to India…

    A great day indeed…

    A vibrant aerospace and space industry will make students go for science and engineering…

  2. @Singam – Strange that HAL did not invite the media and kept the whole event low profile. May be, the HAL top boss thought he is next in line after the DRDO firing incident this week :-)))

    As for the handing over of the Tejas, what can I say? We waited 14 years for Vikramaditya, 15 years for the MMCRA and close to 25 years for the Tejas. One can go from a teenager to becoming a grandfather following these programs.

    Shiv, you've been bitten by the bug my friend. Keep warm, have a peg or 2….hehehehe and here's to wishing you all the very best in 2015.

  3. Shiv, try Ayurveda for your allergic sinusitis. For some body types, it's almost normal to have allergic sinusitis in spring. (It's how the body expels extra weight put on in winter) Regarding the LCA, I say start exporting to Vietnam!

  4. Why the media blackout? Usually, when a company delivers a high profile fighter jet to an air force, it's a huge media event. Both the builder and the customer want to show off the new thing.

    Why does the IAF and HAL see the media and by extension the people that consume the media, as someone to be shut out? Is it not the people's money that paid for this thing?

    As a person of the media, you should be pressing hard to make sure that genuine public interest issues are not kept in the dark by the govt.

  5. NSR says —

    I am a space and defense engineer and scientist and agree with Dr. Harinarayan and Dr. Subramnya…

    One of the missile system I worked on became a defacto standard in the world after a decade and half…

    Start using it and keep upgrading in Blocks forever…

    DM Parrikar use a hammer to hit the IAF and its chief if they try to sabotage it…

    No one gives this kindn of technology for free and it must be developed from scratch or collaborate with similar interest countries…

    Get well Shiv Aroor…Too much pollution in Indian cities…
    They need strict auto muffler laws to reduce pollution…

  6. A great day indeed for the IAF and the nation. Media blackout for now could be as the IAF may be plg a big induction ceremony at a later date??
    But great news indeed.


  8. We need this jet in big numbers .HAL needs to increase the production rate at least 15 per year and IAF needs to increase the order to at least 80 for mk1 series.Happy to see that HAL did not called up media to show case this as huge achievement for something which took 30 years to manufacture.

  9. Tejas is nearly invisible on the radar since it is largely made up of composites secondly it would be equipped with a radar jammer AESA radar in the mk2 version .better late then never.this plane would eventually make up for the numbers in the has to be 294+ for IAF and 50+ for the Indian Navy.

  10. I must admit, HAL has reached new highs under this mans tenure..

    look at this

    HAL files 1052 patents,Undetakes HTT 40 on its own fighting the IAF, Achieves IOC and now hands over the LCA.

    He has been brand concious and ensured that the companys activities have been highlighted.
    Also he has addressed the saga of non connect between academia and industry, HAL now has chair at all IITs and IIMs…great going.

    Proud of HAL and LCA

  11. True words. This Tyagi guy from HAL deserves praise as before he came, HAL was getting vilified almost every hour.

    Now, at least one can see delivery all around. Good job, Tyagi

  12. This kind of stuff is tough to develop with the kind technology maturity we had this 32 years is also incorrect. I think it is closer to 20.
    Now the team needs to work to bring upgraded versions on regular intervals.
    If you consider ten industrial advancement, there is no reason why US is struggling with F35 or why we hear horror stories com Eurofighter that had access to budget +"technology + experience of all European nations together

  13. Even if it it a "khota sikka" it is ours lets use it and improve it — see the content of Grippen its beg borrow or steal parts gathered from all over the world and assembled and yet they do not have any qualms about it — no foreign country has perfect equipment say Russians where will they get it from and Americans will not buy from others unless it is produced in USA means make in USA thus sir Make in India is the right policy meanwhile something happens we have the nukes — thus try and try till you succeed — and Rome was not Built in a day — Arre yar kuch to socho they have made 150000 + aircrafts, tanks etc in last 80 years we will take some time

  14. Why the media black out. It's been in the making for almost 3 decades now. This should have been a proud moment just like the launch of Arihant. This doesn't behove the name given to LCA. Country needs to know about this if not the others. Why they are making it a hideous hand over.

  15. Despite all the misgivings about Tejas LCA, handing over the aircraft to IAF for Final Operational Clearance testing is absolutely the right step. HAL has been entirely tardy is delivering capable platforms to IAF; that still does not absolve the IAF of having vested interests in importing expensive platforms instead of investing in indigenous technologies. If the government decides to impose indigenous equipment while simultaneously pushing indigenous R&D to deliver; an entirely appropriate approach to deal with the current mess!

  16. Why are we so happy ? We urgently need additional Mig 29 , Su 30 , upengined and updarind Jags and a few squds. of Gripens to maintain status quo. LCA is a sarkari employment provider and let it continue to be.

    Since we will never be able to manufacture Tejas in sufficient quantities , let its limited numbers be employed for advanced training , Navy and tech.developer till we learn to manufacture quantity with quality.

    Our pilots are very precious and they should never be sacrificed over shoddy pretenders. This is not a rant but the feeling of a highly pareshan atma.

  17. Anonymus, We are very happy for the simple reasons.1.we don't thin that us less. 2.It is.largely an indigenous.effort and many techs are top secret and never shares. The developers had to start from the wheel.3. Hence effort width some.praise.

  18. Urgently need 100 Mig 29's and 100 Gripens to replace the Mig 21's . Our desi shudh sakari , highly sekoolar urankhatola Tejas will only be for special appearances or item numbers at 8 annually .

  19. NSR says —

    Shiv Aroor-Why only two Tejas I and six next year…When the final shape is decided and GE engines are available, what is the hangup?

    Can you write a detailed article?

    Thank you.

  20. Typical of the tokenism that has bugged this project since the start.
    One Chairman about to retire wants to put a CV point on … "started production of …" so we hand one example of something or so it appears.
    In 1964 4 Maruts were handed over to start a handling flight- what can anyone do with ONE?
    Let us not be insulted by this kind of display. Thank God the op was "low key"

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Scroll to Top