This Man From Brahmapur Led The Crafting Of India’s First Home-Grown Fighter Aircraft, Tejas!
It was a revolutionary step when India produced its very own, indigenous and first-of-its-kind Light Combat Aircraft (LCA). On 4th January 2001, an indomitable team headed by Dr. Kota Harinarayana of Berhampur district, Odisha, successfully tested the first flight of their LCA Technology Demonstrator. This very aircraft got christened as Tejas by Atal Bihari Vajpayee. Here’s presenting an interesting journey of Dr. Kota and Tejas!
Dr. Kota Harinarayana completed his schooling from City High School and mechanical engineering from Banaras Hindu University. Ever since he passed out from the University, he got attracted towards aviation and eventually planned a career in aerospace and air mechanics. To pursue his interest, he joined the Indian Institute of Science in Bengaluru for a course in aerospace engineering and later landed as a design engineer at the prestigious Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL).
Back when MIG fleet of combat jets had a lifespan of just 10 years left, a decision was taken to launch the Light Combat Aircraft (LCA) programme. In 1984, Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL) and other institutions were roped in for this glorious initiation. Thus began the story of Tejas which was entwined with the life of Dr. Kota, since its inception.
Harinarayana, who was then the Director of DRDO’s Aeronautical Development Agency was considered to be best for leading the venture of making combat aircraft. Eventually in 1995, Dr. Kota was elevated to the position of Distinguished Scientist by DRDO. His will-power and determination made him to become the ultimate brain behind developing a world class and efficient fighter aircraft for India!
Finally in January 2001, the small tail-less delta wing prototype named Technology Demonstrator TD-1 got ready for testing. It was a historic day for the entire nation as the Indian skies saw their home-grown aircraft after almost 40 years. Following numerous successful attempts, Tejas finally received the certification of being pressed into service in January 2011.
The contribution of Dr. Kota towards Tejas has been well recognized and he got awarded with the coveted Padma Shri in 2002 besides being appointed as President of the Aeronautical Society of India. Thereafter, a lot of rewards and accolades have been showered on this genius person, including the Lifetime Achievement Award by DRDO, honorary doctorate by Berhampur University and many others.
Harinarayana, the man who dared to dream of seeing Tejas being inducted into Indian Air Force made India feel proud of something which was regarded as an extremely daring task to fulfill!