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New IAF Chief tested Tejas during sanctions

- Negotiated Rafale deal - Wg Cdr Bhadauria tested the fly-by-wire system being made for the first time in India following US sanctions - The veteran fighter pilot acted as chairman of the Indian negotiating team for the purchase of 36 Rafale jets from France - He holds the unique honour of being an Experimental Test Pilot, a Qualified Flying Instructor and a Pilot Attack Instructor

Updated:Saturday, September 21, 2019, 00:59

New IAF Chief tested Tejas during sanctionsWhen India tested a "thermo nuclear” device in May 1998, US imposed sanctions and the development of Light Combat Aircraft, the Tejas, was hit. A key stumbling block, among others, was the fly-by-wire system — the on-board computer that guides the jets and all its systems.

India was looking to get help from the US or France but with the Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) and its labs put on the “entities list”, it stopped any country from helping India.

July 2001 onwards altered the course for the Tejas. Wing Commander Rakesh Kumar Singh Bhadauria was selected as project director of the National Flight Test Centre for testing the LCA as its Chief Test Pilot. Having commanded the Jaguar squadron at Ambala during the Kargil war (May to July 1999) the officer`s task was cut out — India wanted the plane to fly at any cost and make the fly-by-wire system on its own.

Wg Cdr Bhadauria (Now Air Marshal, the second highest post in the IAF), had the task to test out the systems that were being made for the first time in India.

“Major development of the Tejas took place under his tenures (July 2001-March 2005 and another one in 2007),” recalls Air Vice Marshal SJ Nanodkar (retd), who is one year junior in service to Air Marshal Bhadauria, the IAF Chief-Designate.

He was the one testing the fly-by-wire system being built from scratch by scientists. Inputs of a test pilot are vital, besides the inherent risk to the pilots own life as the system was being tried out, recalls AVM Nanodkar.

With more than 4,250 hours of flying time across 26 different fighter jets and transport aircraft, as Deputy Chief of the Indian Air Force, Air Marshal Bhadauria acted as chairman of the Indian negotiating team for the purchase of the 36 Rafale jets.

Both his children — a son and a daughter — are pilots but in the civil aviation sector.

Source: Tribune news Service

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