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First indigenous Combat Plane of India enters service after 33 Years

The single-seat Indian fighter is considered superior to counterparts like the JF-17 aircraft jointly built by China and Pakistan

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Tejas. Image source: militaryaviationnews.wordpress.com
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  • India’s fighter aircraft fleet, made up of a mix of Russian, British and French planes
  • China said it is still testing its first stealth fighter, the J-20, but it would enter service soon
  • The single-seat Indian fighter is considered superior to counterparts like the JF-17 aircraft jointly built by China and Pakistan

India’s first locally-built combat aircraft officially took to the skies on Friday, 33 years after it was cleared for development, marking a long-held goal of cutting expensive imports to build a domestic defense-industrial base.

BENGALURU- India’s fighter aircraft fleet, made up of a mix of Russian, British and French planes, is down to 33 squadrons as against the air force’s requirement of 45 to face Pakistan and China.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s government has nudged the military to accept the first version of the “Tejas” Light Combat Aircraft to make up for the shortfall while a more powerful subsequent model is under development.

Indian Air Force officers broke coconuts and priests held multi-faith ceremonies to mark the induction of two planes in the southern city of Bengaluru. Later, the aircraft took off in the colors of the air force as fire tenders sprayed water on he tarmac in a military ritual.

“Moment of national pride. Indigenously developed Tejas fighter jet inducted into Air Force. Tejas will take our air strength to new heights,” Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar, who has led the drive for indigenisation, said in a Twitter post.

Early this month, in June, China said it is still testing its first stealth fighter, the J-20, but it would enter service soon.

Crew inspecting first J-20 prototype. Image source: manglermuldoon.blogspot.com
Crew inspecting first J-20 prototype. Image source: manglermuldoon.blogspot.com

The single-seat Indian fighter is considered superior to counterparts like the JF-17 aircraft jointly built by China and Pakistan. Tejas has had no accident in 3,000 hours of flying and its use of composites helps lower its radar signature, making it harder to detect early, air force officials said.

“The LCA is as good as any in the world in its class,” said retired Air Vice Marshal Manmohan Bahadur now a fellow at the Centre for Air Power Studies in New Delhi.

But the challenge for state-run Hindustan Aeronautics Limited, which is making the aircraft, will be to stick to the production schedule as the air force seeks to arrest the decline in the number of planes it can deploy, he said.

HAL only has the capacity to produce four Tejas planes a year, a government-appointed audit committee said in a report last year. The plan is to increase production capacity to eight, a defense ministry official said on Friday, June 30.

India is separately negotiating for the purchase of 36 top end Rafale fighter planes from France’s Dassault Aviation, a scaled-back deal that has been hanging fire since 2012. (Reuters)

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  • Aparna Gupta

    Tejas means Radiation, the name was suggested by former PM Atal Bihari Vajpayee. This will strengthen the IAF.

  • AJ Krish

    It is indeed a big achievement. The fight starts from now on, though. They should strive to build more planes with lesser imports and finally make a complete indigenous plane.

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Mysterious Health Incidents Affects 1 More American: State Department

In all, 25 Americans have been affected by the mystery ailment in Cuba

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A view of the U.S. Embassy in Havana, Cuba on Sept.18, 2017.
A view of the U.S. Embassy in Havana, Cuba on Sept.18, 2017. VOA

One more U.S. Embassy employee in Havana, Cuba, has been affected by mysterious health incidents, the State Department said.

State Department spokeswoman Heather Nauert said one of two Americans recently evacuated from Cuba was “medically confirmed” to have been affected, while the other was “still being evaluated” by doctors.

25 Americans affected

In all, 25 Americans have been affected by the mystery ailment in Cuba.

“We still don’t know, to this day, what is causing it and who is responsible,” Nauert said, noting that investigations were underway in Havana as well as Guangzhou, China, where one employee experienced similar symptoms recently.

The United States has said that the Cuba incidents started in late 2016. The State Department calls them “specific attacks” but has not said what caused them or who was behind them. Cuba has adamantly denied involvement or knowledge.

Initial speculation centered on some type of sonic attack owing to strange sounds heard by those affected, but an interim FBI report in January found no evidence that sound waves could have caused the damage, The Associated Press has reported.

Secretary Kerry Touts Virtues of 10-Year U.S.-China Business and Tourism Visas Before Presenting First Documents in Beijing
Secretary Kerry Touts Virtues of 10-Year U.S.-China Business and Tourism Visas Before Presenting First Documents in Beijing, flickr

Warning issued in China

The State Department issued a health warning after the employee in China reported experiencing “subtle and vague, but abnormal, sensations of sound and pressure” and was diagnosed with a mild traumatic brain injury.

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo described it as a “serious medical incident.”

Also read: Cuba Invites United Nations human rights Investigator for first time in decade regarding Human Trafficking

The new confirmation came less than a week after the U.S. renewed demands on Cuba to determine the source of the “attacks” on U.S. diplomats. Cuba responded by again denying any involvement in or knowledge of any such attacks. (VOA)