tejas fighter jets: India has offered to sell 18 light combat aircraft (LCA) “Tejas” to Malaysia, the defense ministry said on Friday, adding that Argentina, Australia, Egypt, the United States, Indonesia and the Philippines were also interested in single-engine jets.
The government last year awarded a $6 billion contract to state-owned Hindustan Aeronautics Ltd for 83 locally produced Tejas jets for delivery around 2023 – four decades after it was first approved in 1983.
Tejas fighter jets
Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s government, keen to reduce India’s dependence on foreign defense equipment, is also making diplomatic efforts to export jets. The Tejas is beset with design and other challenges, and was once dismissed by the Indian Navy as too heavy.
The Defense Ministry told Parliament that Hindustan Aeronautics had in October last year responded to the Royal Malaysian Air Force’s request for a proposal for 18 jets, offering to sell a two-seater version of the Tejas.
“Other countries have shown interest in LCA aircraft: Argentina, Australia, Egypt, USA, Indonesia and the Philippines,” India’s junior defense minister Ajay Bhatt told Members of Parliament in a written reply.
He said the country was also working on building a stealth fighter jet, but declined to give a timeline, citing national security concerns.
Britain said in April that it would support India’s goal of building its own fighter jets. India currently has a mix of Russian, British and French fighter jets.
The Times of India daily reported last month that India is looking to land its all-Soviet-era Russian fighter jet MiG-21s by 2025.
The Indian Tejas light combat aircraft has emerged as Malaysia’s top choice as it looks to replace its aging fleet of fighter jets, and the two countries are currently in talks to go ahead with the procurement process.
R Madhavan, chairman and managing director of Hindustan Aeronautics Limited, said Malaysia has taken on Indian aircraft despite stiff competition from China’s JF-17 jets, South Korea’s FA-50 and Russia’s MiG-35 as well as Yak-130 aircraft has loosened its grip. HAL), in an interview to PTI.
As part of the package, India has offered to set up an MRO (Maintenance, Repair and Overhaul) facility for its Russian-origin Su-30 fighter fleet in Malaysia because of difficulties in procuring parts for the aircraft from Russia facing. Western sanctions against Moscow. “I am very confident about it,” Madhavan said.
As per the plan, HAL will start delivering jets (Mk-IA variant) to the Indian Air Force in 2025 and all 83 jets will have to be handed over by 2030.
Madhavan said, “If a deal is struck with Malaysia, it would indicate acceptability of the aircraft which would result in opening up of many other options.” “Now we have a very good platform. It is the best in this category,” he said.