The stalwart fliers who will be piloting the two Tejas LCAs at the Bahrain Air Show (BAS) every afternoon post-lunch in the time slot 1300 hrs- 1600 hrs for the duration of the BAS are, from the Navy — Cmde. Jaideep Maolankar, presently head of the National Flight Testing Centre, Bangalore, and the service’s chief test pilot, Captain Shivnath Dahiya, and from the air force, Group Captain Madhav Rangachari.
Today is the first BIG day for the LCA and Maolankar and Rangachari will be at the controls. According to an unimpeachable source they “will perform (at the very least) a square loop, two rolls, a steep pitch up, a low speed pass combined with half roll and a loop.” This should quieten the doubters in IAF, MOD, and GOI and indeed prompt everyone in the procurement decision loop to trust in Indian talent and R&D programmes. Defmin Parrikar should capitalize on the Tejas impact at BAS, and instruct the ADA, DRDO, et al to transfer in full and without ado the technologies they have developed, ideally, to an Indian private sector defence industrial consortium to produce in large numbers and with hugely improved production quality (something HAL never achieved over the decades which, perhaps, was the reason for IAF’s reluctance to accept indigenous stuff), more realistically to a slate of Indian private sector firms with HAL, may be, retaining the prime integrator role. The ramped up Tejas production will meet both the country’s needs and a rapidly cultivated export market. The priority foreign customers should be Sri Lanka and Malayasia who, with slight Indian persuasion, opted out of their initial decision to tap Pakistan for the Sino-Paki JF-17 Thunder, followed by other neighbouring states, including Bangladesh, Myanmar and members of ASEAN. Vietnam, in particular, will be especially motivated to exploit the fighting qualities of the Tejas to the max.