U.S and French Air Force Chiefs Take to Skies on LCA Tejas
India’s indigenously made Light Combat Aircraft (LCA) Tejas has made another step towards boosting its international acclaim as it was flown by the chiefs of two most powerful air forces in the world, The U.S. and the French, on two separate sorties. 'Tejas' is a single-seat, single-jet engine multi-role combat aircraft designed by the Aeronautical Development Agency (ADA) and Hindustan Aeronautical Limited (HAL).
In a first, General David L Goldfein, Chief of Staff of the US Air Force, has flown a sortie in LCA Tejas aircraft at Air Force Station in Jodhpur, and has become the first foreign military chief to fly Tejas. Goldfein’s flight in the Tejas, during his official visit to India in February, has been a gesture of cooperation between the Indian and the US air forces. Goldfein, who arrived at the Jodhpur Air Force Station, has been accompanied by Air Vice Marshal AP Singh as co-pilot during the sortie.
Goldfein has sounded optimistic about the military relationship between the two countries. In a tweet, he has said, “Grateful for the welcome reception from @IAF_MCC. We look forward to deepening the relationship between our two air forces. I’m also very proud of the strong ongoing relationship forged between the @IAF_MCC and the Rhode Island Air National Guard’s 143rd Airlift Wing.”
Following the US Air Force Chief, later in February, the Chief of the Staff of the French Air Force, General Andre Lanata also has flown a sortie on the Indian Air Force's Light Combat Aircraft (LCA) 'Tejas' at the Jodhpur Air Force Station, becoming the second foreign military chief to fly Tejas. The indigenously built aircraft has taken-off from the Jodhpur Air Force Station, with Lanata in the rear seat of the twin- seat trainer aircraft. He has been accompanied by Group Captain Rajesh Joshi, the commander of the IAF's Jodhpur station.
According to Defence Spokesperson, Lanata has also been about the air force station, which is strategically located in the western part of the state. Other IAF aircrafts have been shown to Lanata who was in the country to enhance bilateral defence cooperation between India and France. The French Airforce Chief, who reached the station with his wife, has been informed about the defence strength and functioning of Asia’s important Jodhpur Air Force Station, and they have also visited other operational units of the station. Earlier in June 2014, during the joint exercise of Garuda 5 between India and France, the then Chief of Staff of the French Air Force, Denis Mercier has flown IAF’s Sukhoi 30 MKI.