Tejas Light Combat Aircraft Export Order: In addition to Malaysia, six other countries, Argentina, Australia, Egypt, the United States, Indonesia, and the Philippines have shown interest in procuring India’s indigenously designed and developed single-engine Tejas fighter jets, the ministry of defence informed the lawmakers on Friday.
India’s junior defence minister Ajay Bhatt informed the members of the country’s lower house, the Lok Sabha, that the country has responded to the Royal Malaysian Air Force’s tender to sell 18 light-combat aircraft (LCA) Tejas to Malaysia.
According to the defence ministry, Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL) responded to the Royal Malaysian Air Force’s request for proposal for 18 jets in October last year, offering to sell the Tejas two-seater variant.
Indian authorities are hopeful of clinching the Malaysian deal despite stiff completion from Chinese and Turkish jet manufacturers.
India’s defence ministry last year awarded a $6 billion contract to state-owned aircraft manufacturer Hindustan Aeronautics Limited for supply of 83 locally produced Tejas jets.
Self-reliant India in defence
India has been trying to develop indigenous defence industry under Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s flagship schemes – Make in India and a Self-reliant India (Atma Nirbhar Bharat), as the country has the dubious distinction of one of the world’s largest arms importers according to the data prepared by the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI).
At the same time, the country is trying to expand its defence export portfolio as it seeks to sell supersonic cruise missile Brahmos which has been jointly developed with Russia and locally produced fighter jets – Tejas.
Defence imports reduced by 10%
In response to a question about the amount of money saved by exporting defence equipment, Ajay Bhatt stated: “With the government’s focus on indigenisation and procurement of defence products from domestic resources, expenditure on defence procurement from foreign sources has decreased from 46 percent to 36 percent in the last four (four) years, i.e. from 2018-19 to 2021-22.”
“Moreover, over the last four years, from 2018-19 to 2021-22, the government has granted Acceptance of Necessity (AoN) to 162 proposals worth approximately Rs. 2,51,130 crore under various categories of domestic capital procurement,” he said.
The government confirmed to the lawmakers that the country was working on developing a stealth fighter jet, but declined to provide a timeline due to national security concerns.
India is seeking to collaborate with foreign partners for development of its own stealth jet.
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.