Monday, May 5, 2003, Chandigarh, India

National Capital Region--Delhi


M A I N   N E W S

PM names LCA as ‘Tejas’
Seeks global partners in aviation sector

Bangalore, May 4
Naming light combat aircraft, projected as country’s future war machine as “Tejas”, Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee today sought joint international collaborations in design, development and co-production in military and civilian sectors.

Speaking at a ceremony to christen the indigenously designed and developed multi-role fighter, Mr Vajpayee said India would follow a vigorous policy of aviation growth in both the military and civilian sectors, while continuing to support indigenous development.

“At the same time, we welcome collaboration with international partners in design, development and co-production”, he said.

Stating that a shining example is India’s co-development with a Russian company of the “Brahmos” supersonic cruise missile, Mr Vajpayee said he was sure that other potential international partners would eventually wake up to the tremendous commercial potential of such joint collaborations with India not only for markets in India but also in third countries.

Mr Vajpayee said the LCA should now be inducted into the Indian Air Force squadrons, adding that the government needed to make the necessary investments for its commercial production and should also explore its export potential.

He expressed confidence that this world-class fighting machine would make a glorious contribution to the nation’s defence.

Noting that the LCA had taken a long time from the drawing board to its first flight two years ago, Mr Vajpayee said sceptics had written off the project many times over and the doubters thought it made better sense to import a similar aircraft, even though under existing technology denial regimes India would have to settle for less sophisticated models.

“Today, we can say that the delay was worth the waiting. Our scientists and engineers had to re-invent the wheel in many areas, but they have designed, tested and produced a world-class machine, which the IAF can fly with pride and confidence”, he said.

Pointing out that the LCA, which flew today, have American engines, Mr Vajpayee said soon India’s own Kaveri engines would power these aircraft, which would then be 75 to 80 per cent indigenous.

Even in this era of globalisation where free movement of goods, technologies and services has become a recurring mantra, he said, India’s defence modernisation programme continued to strive for maximum technological autonomy.

India has adopted a most responsible policy on missile, nuclear and dual use technologies, taking utmost care to avoid their proliferation. It is as much of concern to us as it is to any other country that such technologies should not fall into wrong hands — whether they are of state actors or non-state actors.

“In spite of this, we have continued to face technology denial regimes, which not only try to impede our weapons development programmes, but also affect some of them,” he said.

India’s scientists and technologists had responded splendidly to this challenge and developed world-class technologies of indigenous design, he said, adding, “our cutting edge skills in information technology have added further strength to this process”.

The Chief of Air Staff, Air Chief Marshal S. Krishnaswamy, described LCA as “weapon of war” and “machine of war”, which can teach an adversary a lesson. The LCA was expected to be inducted in a couple of years, he added.

The scientific Advisor to Defence Minister and Director General of the DRDO, Dr V.K. Aatre, said the two technology demonstrators of the LCA had done a total of 76 flights, and with the Prototype Vehicle, which is on the anvil, it was going to break the sound barrier. “It’s going supersonic very shortly”.

Defence Minister George Fernandes said Hindustan Aeronautics Limited would have to start a new division to focus on productionising the LCA.

Without naming anybody, he said when the NDA government came to power, none thought that the LCA and advanced light helicopter project would take off at all, as “deliberate attempts” were made to demoralise the scientists and engineers behind the project. More than one newspaper expressed cynicism over the LCA project even on the day of the LCA’s maiden flight, he added. PTI

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