Earlier this month the seventh limited series production (LSP) Tejas took the air (pictures). Hindustan Aeronautics Ltd. (HAL) made quite a bit of noise on the Tejas Facebook page, including a long video of LSP 7's maiden flight, a press release, and photographs.
Possibly the hoopla has something to do with next week's DefExpo event in New Delhi. Last year, the Tejas received initial operational capability just before the Aero India show.
Anyway, perhaps one of the most interesting things posted on
the Tejas site recently is an interview with Dr. Kota
Harinarayana. Now retired, Dr. H. was a longtime veteran of HAL and the Defence
Research Development Organisation. In a wide ranging interview he discusses
everything from his early days studying the Folland Gnat fighter to his work on
parts for Indian MiGs and his deep involvement in the Tejas programme.
He also discusses in some detail how challenging it was to gear up to produce the Tejas when the last jet fighter India developed indigenously was the HF24 Marut in the 1950s and 1960s. Basically, Dr. H. had to throw together a team of 300 and start from scratch.
"There used to be negative publicity about the project every alternate day," says Dr. H. "They used to say that we had crossed the time limits and the budget. It was tough but then our focus was not on those reports but on how to make it work. Fortunately, the team believed in themselves. Even if others didn't believe, it didn't matter. I think our big achievement was in making the team believe in themselves."