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SOURCE: RAUNAK KUNDE / NEWS BEAT / IDRW.ORG.

Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL) yesterday conducted the maiden test flight of SP-21, the fifth FOC-Standard Tejas Mk1 fighter jet, and SP-22, the sixth FOC-Standard Tejas Mk1 fighter jet successfully. SP-21 was Piloted by the Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL) Chief Test Flying (Fixed Wing) Rajeev Joshi (retired). SP-22 aircraft was piloted by the Unknown HAL Test Pilot that idrw.org couldn’t verify at the point of filing this report. HAL is working hard to get SP-23 to conduct its maiden flight by end of this month as the financial year targets mounts, but the aircraft most probably will be ready only next month.

SP-21 and SP-22 were seen flying in its primer due to march-end woes to meet its target but the aircraft will soon be moving to the paint shop where it takes usually takes around 5-7 days for it to get IAF livery before it can be handed over to the second Squadron by end of next month. SP-21 completed its maiden fight in the early morning, while SP-22 completed its maiden flight in the afternoon. Both had approx. 35-40 min sorties and carried out basic pre-delivery inflight checks before they safely landed back.

The first flight of two brand new aircraft on a single day is unheard of and is a first as production pace picks up after delays due to last years pandemic situation in the country. HAL even after CCP virus-related lockdowns has managed to complete the manufacturing of 5 FOC Standard aircraft from its target of 8.

HAL plans to clear backlogs and hand over 10 more jets for the FY2021-22. HAL plans to start manufacturing 18 LCA-Tejas Mk1 Twin seat conversion Trainer aircraft from September 2022 onwards before the production line moves to the manufacturing of the 83 Single seater Tejas Mk1A, which was recently ordered by the IAF.

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