India’s first fighter jet, the Tejas, has been declared fit to fly – 26 years after it was first conceived.

The defence minister announced in Bangalore that the supersonic jet had won initial operational clearance.

The Tejas, meaning radiant, is expected to replace the ageing fleet of Russian MIG-21s.

The Indian Air Force has already placed orders with government-owned Hindustan Aeronautics Ltd, India’s sole aircraft maker, for 40 of the jets.

The first 20-strong squadron of the light combat aircraft is expected to be inducted by 2012-13.

Missile capability
Indian Defence Minister AK Antony approved the jet with Chief Marshal P V Naik at HAL airport in the southern Indian technological hub of Bangalore on Monday.

The clearance is a major milestone in the fourth generation aircraft’s development, which began in 1985.

The design of the fighter – which can carry air-to-air and air-to-surface weapons – has been long delayed by technological hurdles.

US sanctions imposed after India carried out nuclear tests in 1998 further stalled development of the jet.

The plane was designed and manufactured in India, although some technologies, such as its engine and radar, have been imported.


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India's first fighter jet, the Tejas, has been declared fit to fly - 26…