Indian Tejas jet’s success leaves Western arms contractors worried

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Leading defence and aeronautical firms of the West are reportedly worried over the success of the Tejas Trainer Jet, especially as India is expected to bag the first contracts for the trainer jet from Sri Lanka and Egypt.

The Tejas Light Combat Aircraft (LCA) is a supersonic, single-seat, single-engine multirole light fighter aircraft, which has been under development for the past three decades.

It has been co-developed by the Aeronautical Development Agency (ADA) in cooperation with the Bengaluru-based Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL).

The Sri Lanka Air Force (SLAF) is reportedly looking to procure 18 to 24 new fighter aircraft to replace its obsolete fleet of Chinese license-built MIG-21 by 2017, and had recently rejected Pakistan`s JF-17 aircraft built with Chinese help.

On the other hand, Egypt has also shown some interest in procuring the Tejas, though it had last year signed a contract to buy 24 Rafale fighter jets from France.

According to the web site www.dailymirror.lk, both Colombo and Cairo are said to be interested in purchasing the current version of the aircraft.

Two things going in favour of the Tejas are its lower cost and its flying ability.

The Tejas is perhaps the world`s smallest lightweight, multi-role single engine tactical fighter aircraft and the state-run HAL has said it has received expressions of interest for it from abroad, but refused to reveal any names.

It has maintained that its priority is to deliver this combat aircraft to the Indian Air Force (IAF) and Indian

Navy first.

The Indian Air Force (IAF) is reported to have a requirement for 200 single-seat and 20 two-seat conversion trainers, while the Indian Navy might order up to 40 single-seaters to replace its Sea Harrier FRS.51 and Harrier T.60.

Rather than wait for LAC Mk II, the IAF had decided to go for an upgraded version of the existing Tejas with over 40 modifications. As per the production plan, six aircraft will be made this year and HAL will subsequently scale it up to eight and 16 aircraft per year.HAL is likely to hand over the fourth Tejas aircraft to the IAF by June end.

The four aircraft will make up the first squadron to be used for training and familarisation.

The first Tejas squadron will be based in Coimbatore, Tamil Nadu, and is scheduled to enter service by 2017-2018.

The LCA programme was initiated in 1983 to replace the ageing MiG-21s planes in IAF`s combat fleet. In 1984, the Indian government established the Aeronautical Development Agency (ADA) to manage the LCA programme.

The Tejas is often described as a HAL product, but the responsibility for its development belongs to ADA, a national consortium of over 100 defence laboratories, industrial organisations, and academic institutions with HAL being the principal contractor.

The Tejas is the second supersonic fighter developed by HAL after the HAL HF-24 Marut.

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Anupam Kher as Rajya Sabha member? Kashmiri Pandits say actor has done nothing for community

New Delhi, April 23

While rumours of actor Anupam Kher as the seventh nomination to Rajya Sabha are doing the rounds, the Kashmiri Pandit community does not sound pleased with the reports.

BJP leaders Subramanian Swamy and Navjot Singh Sidhu, member of erstwhile National Advisory Council (NAC) Narendra Jadhav, Malayalam actor Suresh Gopi, journalist Swapan Dasgupta and boxer Mary Kom were nominated by the Narendra Modi government to the Rajya Sabha on Friday.

However, the BJP has yet to announce seventh name in the nominated category in the Upper House.

The BJP perhaps thinks that Kher’s nomination would ease its position within the Kashmiri Pandit community.

However, the credentials of the actor, who, of late, has been at the forefront to defend BJP’s stand on intolerance and nationalism debates, do not please many Kashmiri Pandits.

Sanjay Tickoo, president of Kashmiri Pandit Sangharsh Samiti (KPSS), said: “Kher does not deserve it at all. What has he done for the community? There are several other stalwarts who have worked hard for the cause of Pandit community. He has set his eyes for RS seat since last one year or so. But during that period he has done more harm. Spewing venom against any community does not fetch anything.”

“There are some 6,000-7,000 Hindus in the Kashmir Valley. How he is going to increase their morale? We have done it alone so far. We rather feel insecure because of his speeches. How Kher can presume that any Indian not holding a Tricolor is not a nationalist? Why does not he shift with family to the Valley and see? Did he ever visit my home or any other family?” said Tickoo.

Meanwhile, lawyer Ashok Bhan said there is only remote chance of Kher getting the Rajya Sabha.

“President nominates eminent people. Does he fit that position of eminence despite trying hard to do so by subverting constitutional provisions? He is trying to masquerade the cause of Kashmiri Pandits to which he is not connected and does not know anything about. True KPs cannot a party to right wing politics as it is not there in their ethos,” says Bhan.

For the lawyer, Kher is behaving like an anti-Kashmiri as he often abuses Kashmir in Kashmiri.

 

Commenting on reports, theatre personality MK Raina, “I felt very sad when I saw him lampooning intellectuals. He lampooned great personalities like Krishna Sobti who is 90 years old, a freedom fighter and a stalwart in her field, when they returned the award. Sahitya Academy is the most respected award for any writer and it is not easy to return it but he made a mockery of it. I was very upset, it pained me”.

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