BENGALURU, July 1 - India�s first home-grown fighter jet was finally inducted into the IAF today, after a tortuous saga spread over 33 long years, with the launch of the first squadron of two Light Combat Aircraft (LCA) Tejas here, in a major milestone in the country�s military aviation.
A Tejas aircraft, the fourth plus generation lightweight, multi-role supersonic single engine jet sporting the IAF colours, soared to the skies, marking the raising of the first squadron of Tejas in the force at a ceremony preceded by inter-faith prayers, more than three decades after it went into development.
The LCA, smallest and lightest of its class, was flown by Commanding Officer Group Captain Madhav Rangachari for a sortie for about seven minutes at the induction ceremony and was given a water cannon salute on landing.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi hailed the induction of Tejas as a matter of �unparalleled pride and happiness� and a step which illustrates the skills and strengths of Indian scientists.
�Induction of indigenously made Tejas fighter jet into the Air Force fills our hearts with unparalleled pride & happiness,� he tweeted.
�I laud HAL & ADA on the induction of Tejas fighter jet. This illustrates our skills & strengths to enhance indigenous defence manufacturing,� Modi said in another tweet.
Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar said Tejas will take the country�s air strength to new heights.
�Moment of National pride. Indigenously developed Tejas fighter jet inducted into Air Force. Tejas will take our air strength to new heights,� Parrikar tweeted.
State-run Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL) handed over two Tejas aircraft to IAF at a ceremony held at the Aircraft System Testing Establishment here earlier in the day.
HAL officials and Air Marshal Jasbir Walia, Air Officer Commanding-in-Chief, Southern Air Command, Air Marshal Rakesh Kumar Singh Bhadauria, the Deputy Chief of the Air Staff and HAL Chairman Suvarna Raju were present. � PTI