Last year, the Indian government awarded a $6 billion contract to state-owned Hindustan Aeronautics Ltd for 83 locally produced Tejas jets, with deliveries beginning in 2023 – 4 decades after it was first approved in 1983.
New Delhi: India has offered to sell 18 “Tejas” light combat aircraft (LCA) to Malaysia. According to the defense ministry on Friday, Argentina, Australia, Egypt, the United States, Indonesia, and the Philippines were also interested in the single-engine jet.
Ajay Bhatt, India’s junior defence minister, told members of parliament in a written reply to an un-starred question asked in parliament by MP Debasree Chaudhuri: “Other countries which have evinced interest in the LCA aircraft are Argentina, Australia, Egypt, USA, Indonesia, and the Philippines.”
The government of Narendra Modi, keen to reduce India’s reliance on foreign defence equipment, has also made diplomatic efforts to export the jets. The Tejas has faced design and other issues and was once rejected by the Indian Navy as being too heavy.
According to the defence ministry, Hindustan Aeronautics responded to the Royal Malaysian Air Force’s request for a proposal for 18 jets in October last year, offering to sell the Tejas two-seater variant.
Bhatt went on to say that exporting defence equipment saves money in terms of foreign exchange., “With the focus of Government on indigenization and procurement of defence products from the domestic resources, the expenditure on defence procurement from foreign sources has reduced from 46% to 36% in the last 4 (four) years, i.e., from 2018-19 to 2021-22.”
“Moreover, in the last four years, i.e., from 2018-19 to 2021-22, the Government has accorded Acceptance of Necessity (AoN) to 162 proposals worth Rs 2,51,130 crore approximately, under various categories of Capital procurement from domestic sources,” he said.
He also stated that the country was working on developing a stealth fighter jet but declined to provide a timeline due to national security concerns.
Tejas, an Indian LCA success story
Tejas is India’s flagship indigenous defence equipment success. Tejas has faced design and other difficulties and was once rejected by the Indian Navy as being too heavy.
Tejas is a multi-role supersonic fighter with a single engine that is light and agile. It is equipped with a quadruplex digital fly-by-wire Flight Control System (FCS) and advanced flight control laws.
The delta-winged aircraft is intended for ‘air combat’ and ‘offensive air support,’ with ‘reconnaissance’ and ‘anti-ship’ as secondary roles. The use of advanced composites extensively in the airframe results in a high strength-to-weight ratio, long fatigue life, and low radar signatures.