Book Review by K KalyanaramanM 27 July 2021

Radiance in Indian Skies The Tejas Saga lives up to its claim of being a monograph. It is the most comprehensive account, till date, of India’s Light Combat Aircraft (LCA) program. It extols the will of the nation to conceive, develop, and produce a technologically complex flight vehicle responding to the needs of a sovereign state for its air superiority. The depth and expanse of coverage is impressive. The authors, Air Marshal Philip Rajkumar and BR Srikanth are established writers and eminently qualified to record and narrate the Tejas Saga. Rajkumar is a test pilot trained at EPNER, France (1972). He was instrumental in setting up the National Flight Test Centre, and spent nine years on the LCA program from 1994.

Book Front Cover

The hard bound publication has a coffee table format with almost 200 pages of pleasing font and pleasurable colour plates on glossy paper, providing vivid descriptions that bring to life much of the work and many of the people who strove to accomplish the near impossible. 

The main content is fittingly preceded by a foreword from the current Chief of the Air Staff, an Introduction by the current Chairman of the DRDO; and three personal human interest accounts: by two former Scientific Advisors to the RM, and by the lead author himself. Air Marshal Rajkumar’s description of his first sortie on the LCA, his long cherished dream, almost two decades after the first flight of the first prototype, is both wistful and vivid. He pulls you into the cockpit and takes you along for the ride!

The book is organised into 26 chapters. Starting with historical facts dating back to the genesis of the LCA program circa 1969, there is a chronological revelation of its entire life cycle covering the birth of ADA, project definition, collaborative involvement of multiple R&D Labs and the industry, technology demonstration, development of fly by wire, fabrication of the airframe and installation of the systems, first flight of the prototype, transition to full scale development and limited series production, weapons integration, envelope expansion, air-to-air refuelling, spin off to naval variant, show casing at international air shows, airworthiness certification, operational clearance, and release to service. The authors have also deftly touched upon human endeavour, learning curve, role of private sector, challenges in aero engine and radar development, and financial outlays.

Chronicling the conception, design, development, test, validation and operational clearance of a high technology combat aircraft, involving hundreds of professionals tackling many challenges, spread across a multitude of organisations, is no easy task. The authors have brought into focus, with remarkable competence, almost all aspects of this large, complex development program spanning over three decades. Each topic occupies a commanding place in the sequence of appetisingly titled chapters. The content has been painstakingly researched and compiled. The narrative style of the authors, littered with interesting images as well as thumbnail sketches and anecdotes of human endeavour and achievements, does full justice to India’s Light Combat Aircraft program. The book carries a wealth of technical details to satisfy the nerd, abundant facts to please the aviation enthusiast, and significant information for students of engineering and management sciences. 

The book contains everything to delight the connoisseur and nothing to intimidate the lay reader. It is packed with information, and is bound to advance the field of aeronautics in the country. It deserves a prominent space in all institutional libraries and on the coffee tables of enthusiasts and exponents alike.

  • Category: DRDO Monographs / Special Publications Series
  • Title: Radiance in Indian Indian Skies The Tejas Saga
  • Authors: Air Marshal Philip Rajkumar and BR Srikanth
  • © 2021 Defence Research & Development Organisation, Delhi 110 011
  • ISBN 978-81-86514-78-8
  • Published By: Director, DESIDOC, Metcalfe House, Delhi – 110 054
  • Price: INR 1,400; US$ 60: UKP 50


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2 thoughts on “Radiance in Indian Skies The Tejas Saga

    1. Thank you for your interest in this book, Mr PROTTI. The Defence Research & Development Organisation is in the process of setting up an online ordering portal to facilitate remote purchase. We will post an update as soon as we get a link.
      – SFTE India Chapter

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