Must Read: Father of the HAL Tejas speaks

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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 TejasFacebook page, including a long video of LSP 7′s maiden flight, a pressrelease, and photographs.

Possibly the hoopla has something to do with next week’sDefExpo event in New Delhi. Last year, the Tejas received initial operationalcapability just before the Aero India show.

Anyway, perhaps one of the most interesting things posted onthe Tejas site recently is an interview with Dr. KotaHarinarayana. Now retired, Dr. H. was a longtime veteran of HAL and the DefenceResearch Development Organisation. In a wide ranging interview he discusseseverything from his early days studying the Folland Gnat fighter to his work onparts for Indian MiGs and his deep involvement in the Tejas programme.

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He also discusses in some detail how challenging it was togear up to produce the Tejas when the last jet fighter India developedindigenously was the HF24 Marut in the 1950s and 1960s. Basically, Dr. H. hadto throw together a team of 300 and start from scratch.

“There used to be negativepublicity about the project every alternate day,” says Dr. H. “They used to saythat we had crossed the time limits and the budget. It was tough but then ourfocus was not on those reports but on how to make it work. Fortunately, theteam believed in themselves. Even if others didn’t believe, it didn’t matter. Ithink our big achievement was in making the team believe in themselves.

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