Tejas aircraft emerges as top choice for Malaysia's fighter jet programme
Malaysia is looking to replace its ageing fighter jet inventory, and India's Tejas light combat aircraft has emerged as the top contender.
Malaysia is looking to replace its ageing fighter jet inventory, and India's Tejas light combat aircraft has emerged as the top contender. The two parties are currently debating how to proceed with the acquisition process.
Despite fierce competition from China's JF-17 jet, South Korea's FA-50, Russia's Mig-35, and the Yak-130 plane, Malaysia has reduced its search for Indian aircraft, according to an interview with R Madhavan, Chairman and Managing Director of Hindustan Aeronautics Ltd (HAL).
India has proposed to establish an MRO facility in Malaysia for its fleet of Russian-made Su-30 fighters as part of the deal because it is having trouble obtaining spare parts from Russia due to Western sanctions against Moscow.
"I am very confident about it," Madhavan told PTI when asked whether the mega-deal would be closed soon.
If the deal is completed, it will send a really good signal to other possible buyers of the aircraft and increase its overall export potential, according to the chief executive of the state-run aerospace powerhouse.
"It (negotiation) is almost in the final stages. We are the only country which is offering them the support for their Su-30 aircraft as well as other than Russia, we are the only one who can support them to the extent that they require for that fleet," Madhavan said.
Although the Chinese JF-17 was reportedly less expensive, it could not meet the Tejas Mk-IA variant's technological specifications or India's pledge to maintain the Su-30 fleet.
To advance the procurement process, a group of senior officials and professionals is scheduled to visit India soon. According to Madhavan, Tejas is a far superior aircraft to the JF-17 and FA-50, and Malaysia would have the opportunity to update its fleet in the future if it chose to use the Indian aircraft.
The HAL-produced Tejas is a single-engine, highly manoeuvrable, multi-role supersonic fighter capable of flying in dangerous airspace.
To purchase 83 Tejas fighter aircraft for the Indian Air Force, the defence ministry signed a Rs 48,000 crore contract with HAL in February of last year (IAF).
Indian engineers have begun working on the Tejas MK 2 and a $5 billion initiative to create a fifth-generation Advanced Medium Combat Aircraft (AMCA).
"We actually are the only one who covered everything that they require and we met their budget requirements as well," Madhavan said.
"Nobody will offer them upgrades so fast as we would offer. They will have an alternative available in Tejas Mark 2 and they can even think of AMCA," the HAL chief added.
It's not immediately known how many aircraft Malaysia is considering buying. He declared that HAL would continue to provide Malaysia with the same calibre of services that it has been providing the Indian Air Force.
When asked if the IAF's supply of Tejas jets would be affected if HAL were to win the Malaysian contract, Madhavan said that production of the aircraft will be increased based on demand. The plan stipulates that the HAL would begin transferring the planes (Mk-IA type) to the IAF in 2025, and all 83 jets must be transferred by 2030.
Madhavan said, if the deal with Malaysia is sealed, then it will signal the acceptability of the aircraft which would result in the opening up of many other options. "We now have a very good platform. It is the best in this category," he said.
(With inputs from PTI)