Defence News India: Indian Air Force Wednesday operationalised second squadron of indigenously designed and developed Light Combat Aircraft Tejas at Sulur airbase in Southern state of Tamil Nadu.
The lightweight fighter aircraft was inducted by the Air Force Chief RKS Bhadauria at the number 18 Squadron ‘Flying Bullets’ which was formed in April 15, 1965 but was number plated.
However, the Air Force later decided to resurrect the Flying Bullet squadron and induct Tejas fighter jets in it.
The squadron used to operate MiG-27 fighter jets had the first IAF pilot to win the highest battle honour Param Vir Chakra, Flying Officer Nirmal Jit Singh Sekhon posthumously in the 1971 Indo-Pakistan war.
The Flying Bullets squadron was formed with the motto of Teevra aur Nirbhaya (Swift and Fearless). It was the first to land and operate from Srinagar.
Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL) LCA Tejas
LCA Tejas aircraft is equipped with fly-by-wire flight control system, integrated digital avionics, multimode radar and its structure is made out of composite material.
Tejas is the lightest and smallest in its group of supersonic combat aircraft.
The IAF has inducted 16 weaponised Tejas fighter jets into its combat fleet since June 2018. The LCA Tejas is equipped with fly-by-wire flight control system, integrated digital avionics and multimode radar.
LCA Tejas is being manufactured by the defence public sector undertaking (DPSU) Hindustan Aeronautics Ltd (HAL).
Indian Air Force committed to Make in India programme
“We are committed to the Tejas programme and all its variants. The induction of the second squadron is sure to boost the operational utilisation of Tejas,” Air Chief Marshal Bhadauria said.
“To achieve our goals and to see the complete operational utility of Tejas, we will need these fighters in large numbers. And, this can be achieved only if the public and private industries take the lead,” said the IAF Chief.
The Flying Bullets will be commanded by Group Captain Manish Tolani, who was commissioned in Indian Air Force in 2001.
Group Captain Tolani was earlier the Flight Commander of Flying Daggers, and is a Cat-A Qualified Instructor and an Instrument Rating Instructor-Examiner with vast experience on MiG 29, MiG 21, Hawk Mk 132A and now Tejas.
He will be assisted by Group Captain Dinesh Dhankhar as the Flight Commander of Flying Bullets.
HAL is working to deliver the entire block of 16 FOC fighters to IAF by September 2022.
The next two fighters Tejas SP-22 and Tejas SP-23 are expected to join the Flying Bullets squadron in the next one month.
Indian Air Force has placed an order for 40 Tejas aircraft, and is likely to seal a contract with HAL for another 83 aircraft at a cost of around Rs 38,000 crores.