The United States, Australia, Indonesia, and the Philippines are among six nations that have expressed interest in India’s Tejas aircraft, while Malaysia has already shortlisted the plane for its purchase programme, according to the government on Friday. Argentina and Egypt have also expressed interest in the aircraft, according to Ajay Bhatt, minister of state for defense. The government told the Parliament on Friday that Malaysia is procuring 18 Tejas jets.
Hindustan Aeronautics Ltd’s Tejas is a single-engine multi-role fighter aircraft capable of operating in high-threat air conditions. The defence ministry signed a Rs 48,000 crore contract with HAL in February last year for the acquisition of 83 Tejas light combat aircraft for the Indian Air Force (IAF).
The government said, “Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL), a defence PSU under the Ministry of Defence, responded to a request for information received from Royal Malaysian Air Force (RMAF) in February 2019 for LCA class aircraft.
In response to a Lok Sabha question on Tejas, Bhatt stated that HAL responded to a Request for Information (RFI) or initial tender received from the Royal Malaysian Air Force in February 2019. Following that, in October 2021, HAL responded to Malaysia’s Request For Proposal (RFP) for 18 aircraft, offering the twin-seater form of the Tejas.
Malaysia is procuring the aircraft to replace its ageing fleet of Russian MiG-29 fighter planes. The number of aircraft that Malaysia is looking at procuring is not immediately clear. “Other countries which have evinced interest in LCA aircraft are Argentina, Australia, Egypt, USA, Indonesia, and the Philippines,” he said.
Last month, R Madhavan, then-Chairman and Managing Director of HAL, stated that the Tejas aircraft had emerged as Malaysia’s top pick. In response to a related question about whether the government plans to build a stealth fighter jet, Bhatt responded: “absolutely,” adding that the Defense Research and Development Organization had successfully tested an “autonomous flying wing technology demonstration” (DRDO).
“Furthermore, the required information is sensitive in nature, and its publication would be detrimental to national security,” he added. The Government has taken several policy initiatives in the past few years and brought in reforms to encourage indigenous design, development and manufacturing of defence equipment in the country, thereby expanding production.
These initiatives, inter-alia, include:
• According to priority to the procurement of capital items from domestic sources under the Defence Acquisition Procedure 2020.
• The announcement of 18 major defence platforms for industry-led design development in March 2022.
• Notification of three ‘Positive Indigenisation Lists’ of total 310 items of services and two ‘Positive Indigenisation Lists’ of 2,958 items of the Defence Public Sector Undertakings (DPSUs), for which there would be an embargo on the import beyond the timelines indicated against them.