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Defence Minister Rajnath Singh (3rd right) waves to the media from the co-pilot’s seat while pilot Air Vice Marshal N Tiwari looks on before flying on a sortie in a ‘Tejas’ Light Combat Aircraft (LCA) at HAL Airport in Bangalore on Thursday.

Rajnath becomes first Defence Minister to fly in Tejas fighter aircraft

Bengaluru: Defence Minister Rajnath Singh on Thursday flew in the Tejas fighter aircraft from the HAL airport in Bengaluru, becoming the first defence minister to fly in the indigenously-built light combat aircraft (LCA).

After the 30-minute sortie, the defence minister said he chose the aircraft because it was built indigenously and described the flying experience as thrilling.

“Flight very smooth, comfortable, I was thrilled. It was one of the most memorable events of my life,” said the 68-year-old Singh after alighting from the aircraft.

“This is an indigenous plane. So, it came naturally to me to fly in Tejas and experience the flying. It was also to check under what conditions our fighter pilots fly these aircraft. This is why I flew in this aircraft,” the minister said.

Wearing a G suit, holding his helmet under his arms and sporting aviator glasses, Singh looked every inch a fighter pilot. “I want to congratulate HAL, DRDO and several agencies concerned. We have reached a level where we can export fighter planes across the world…Countries in South East Asia have shown interest in purchasing Tejas aircraft,” he said.

An official said the minister also “controlled” and flew the aircraft for around two minutes. However, the minister said he was following orders.

“But those two minutes were memorable,” he said.

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