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Singapore def minister hails Tejas fighter jet as 'excellent'

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Defence Minister of Singapore, Ng Eng Hen, during a sortie in the trainer version of the Light Combat Aircraft (LCA) at the Indian Air Force base at Kalaikunda in West Bengal on Tuesday. A PTI Photo.

KALAIKUNDA, WB (PTI): Singapore Defence Minister Ng Eng Hen on Tuesday hailed India's indigenously-built multi-role light combat aircraft Tejas as "excellent and very impressive".

As the first civilian foreigner, Hen took a half-an-hour flight in Tejas at the Kalaikunda airbase in the eastern-Indian state of West Bengal.

"It is an excellent aircraft and it is very impressive," Hen told reporters at Kalaikunda.

He praised Air Vice Marshal A P Singh, the pilot who flew the Tejas, saying he felt as if he was riding a car and not flying in a fighter aircraft.

Asked whether Singapore is interested in buying the Tejas fighter aircraft, Ng said he is not a pilot and it is for the technical people to take a call on it.

Indian defence sources said Singapore has evinced interest in Tejas.

During the Bahrain air show where Tejas aircraft was showcased, some countries in the Middle East had also shown interest, the defence sources said.

Two Tejas aircraft were flown in Kalaikunda from Bangalore for displaying them to the Singapore Defence Minister.

Air Vice Marshal Singh who flew Ng is the project director of the National Flight Test Centre-Aeronautical Development Agency.

Tejas aircraft was designed by the Aeronautical Development Agency and Hindustan Aeronautics Limited for the Indian Air Force and the Navy.

The Singapore Defence Minister is scheduled to meet his Indian counterpart Nirmala Sitharaman in Delhi on Wednesday.

"Bilateral defence ties between our two countries are strong and it is getting stronger," Ng said.

Singapore Air Force is holding joint military training with their Indian counterpart at the Kalaikunda airbase.

Asked about the joint military training, Ng said, "I hope this will continue for long".

The first joint military training between Indian Air Force and the Republic of Singapore Air Force (RSAF) was held at the Gwalior air force station in 2004.

Such an exercise was first held in Kalaikunda in 2007 and since then regular joint training has been held at the air force station there.

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