Talks with Argentina, Philippines, Nigeria for LCA Tejas in advanced stages, 3 more nations interested
Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL), the state-owned plane maker, is actively engaged in discussions with six countries to sell its light combat aircraft. Advanced talks are underway with Argentina, the Philippines, and Nigeria, while Botswana and Egypt have expressed interest.
State-owned plane maker Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL) is in talks with six countries, with three at an advanced stage to sell its light combat aircraft. With Argentina, Philippines and Nigeria, “the talks have picked pace,” HAL Chief Managing Director CB Ananthakrishna said on Thursday on the sidelines of the two-day Avionics Expo 2023 in the national capital. Besides, countries like Botswana and Egypt have already evinced interest in India’s home-grown fighter aircraft project. The HAL received a setback after the Malaysian Royal Air Force opted for Korea's F-50 Golden Eagle fighter jet over LCA Tejas.
On being asked about Argentina’s concern over the UK-origin parts being used in the aircraft, the HAL CMD said, "That part will be taken care of". Currently, the LCA Tejas has over 15 British components, including a Martin-Baker ejection seat, which the Argentinian have flagged concern.
It must be mentioned that HAL is targeting export sales of Rs 25 billion over the next few years. India, which has so far been one of the biggest importers in the globe of defence equipment, is now looking to venture into the global arms export market in a big way. Earlier this year, Prime Minister Narendra Modi had set out a target to more than triple the value of annual defence exports to USD 5 billion over the next two years.
Currently, the Indian Air Force is operating with two squadrons of LCA Tejas and an order worth Rs 36,468 crore for procurement of 83 LCA Mk 1A aircraft was placed in 2021 with the HAL and delivery is scheduled to begin by February 2024.
A week ago, Defence Minister Rajnath Singh-led Defence Acquisition Council (DAC) gave approval to a proposal to acquire an additional 97 LCA Mk1A fighter aircraft for the Indian Air Force. The HAL is conducting a two-day ‘HAL Avionics Expo-2023’ in Delhi from Thursday. "It will serve as a hub for professionals, industry leaders and stakeholders from the aviation sector and they will have networking opportunities to establish meaningful connections, foster collaborations and explore potential business partnerships," HAL’s Director (Engineering and R&D) D K Sunil said on Tuesday. The expo unveiled a comprehensive range of avionics products designed and developed by HAL.