Tarmak007 -- A bold blog on Indian defence: Part 4: This day, that age: Exactly 41 years (10 Jan '70) after India lost Groupie Suranjan Das in the HF-24 crash, Tejas gets IOC (10 Jan '11)

Monday, January 10, 2011

Part 4: This day, that age: Exactly 41 years (10 Jan '70) after India lost Groupie Suranjan Das in the HF-24 crash, Tejas gets IOC (10 Jan '11)

Group Capt Suranjan Das
died in the HF-24 Mk IR crash
on 10 January 1970 
It's like the this date, that age story. I couldn’t believe when I chanced upon a very interesting piece of information today. And, when I got it confirmed from my pilot friend Air-Vice Marshal (Retd) A.V. M. Ajit Lamba, honestly I was stunned. It was on 10 January 1970 India lost a great Test pilot in Group Capt Suranjan Das in the HF-24 Mk IR crash. And today, exactly 41 years later, Tejas is been given the IOC. Mere coincidence may be! While as cub reporter, pursuing a dream in defence writing, I was told by many about the impact that fatal crash had on India’s military aviation program. We literally abandoned making a home-grown fighter for the next 15 years, until the ASR for LCA was out in 1985. Though it was a chance-pit-stop at a piece of info on the Web, I thought it would be a befitting tribute to Groupie Suranjan Das, by mentioning a line about him. And, in Bangalore, I hit the Suranjan Das Road every day.
So, finally, finally, India’s Tejas enters the IOC phase. Exactly at 11:23 am (IST) CEMILAC chief Dr Tamil Mani handed over the Release to Service Documents (RSD) to India’s Defense Minister A.K. Antony, who in-turn passed it on to IAF boss Air Chief Marshal P.V. Naik.
ADA Chief P.S. Subramanyam said that ‘the best is still ahead of us.’ He spoke about the deadlines like 2012 for FOC, Tejas MK-II by December 2014 and the production version by June 2016 and so on. He also made an interesting appeal that the academic institutions must help India in the stealth activities.
The next man to speak was Dr V.K. Saraswat, Captain, Team DRDO. He said IOC was a new page in the history of aviation in India. He said the level of technology in the country has gone up. He complimented the role played by private players.
R.K. Singh, Secretary Defense Production, said that the Arjun MBT delivery will be completed this fiscal and the Army, according to him, is extremely happy. He said HAL’s IJT will get IOC in June and then touched upon FGFA and stuff like that.
And, came the man in blue -- the IAF Chief. I have always seen him simply serious. “The IOC we have been dreaming about for a long time. We have been waiting ever since the ASR was out in 1985. Over the years, reassessment and realignment of the project was necessary to keep pace with the changing times. Some work needs to be done before IOC. We hope the agreed list of concessions, wanted by ADA and HAL, will be ready by June,” he said.
Anotny with the FDAJB cap.
Enter Antony, patting Dr Kota Harinarayana. He called him the Bhageeratha of 21st Century. “He is an example for others to emulate,” Antony said. In fact, Dr Kota’s name was mentioned by all speakers and the gathering applauded. Dr Kota was seated in the front row. Antony went on: “We wanted to strengthen our armed forces with most modern platforms. We have cleared today 20 more LCAs (means 20 + the conformation for the next 20).”

Then it was time for the flying display and press meet. The display was just okay considering that the NFTC had decided not to perform anything spectacular, but have a very quiet and low key flying. That was the brief from the top. PV2, PV3 and LSP4 took-off and landed.
Before the press meet, Antony had a very informal interaction with journalists. The Forum of Defence and Aerospace Journalists, Bangalore (FDAJB) members made use of the opportunity to gift him a cap with FDAJB embroidered on it. Right through the entire press meet, he was donning the FDAJB cap. We thanked him for giving us increased exposure to India’s defense establishment(s).
Honestly there was nothing great to report from the press meet. The brief was not to ask any questions other than related to LCA. The standard of questions were definitely under par, barring a few. Plus only one question per person. And, the guy who broke this rule and fired questions (from Bangalore) at will, asked shockers! Still, the best catch of the day, is below.
  •  Total of 4 Tejas (2 + 2) will be inducted before December 2011. (Antony)
  • Tejas Squadron to be raised in Bangalore for operational convenience and then will be moved to Sulur. (CAS)
  • To start with it will have 2 squadrons. (CAS)
  • MCA project is moving ahead with funds for technology development released. (Saraswat)
  •  The Sencma-Kaveri pact should bring the results in 3-5 years. (Saraswat)
  • Tejas is in the class of Mig 21++, but not yet a 4th generation machine. It will eventually become one. (CAS)
  • Initially we are planning to manufacture 10 Tejas per year and the scene will change with increased orders. (HAL)
  • Tejas is currently 60% indigenous and eventually will be 75 per cent by FOC. (Saraswat)
  • Money is not an issue and the government will fund any R&D project.  (Antony)
  • HAL modernization in the pipeline. (Antony)

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