India has offered to sell 18 light combat aircraft (LCA) “Tejas” to Malaysia, the defense ministry said Friday, adding that Argentina, Australia, Egypt, the United States, Indonesia and the Philippines were also interested in the single-engine jet. .
The government last year awarded a $6 billion contract to state-owned Hindustan Aeronautics Ltd for 83 of the locally produced Tejas jets for delivery from about 2023 – four decades after it was first approved in 1983.
The government of Prime Minister Narendra Modi, seeking to reduce India’s reliance on foreign defense equipment, has also made diplomatic efforts to export the jets. Plagued by design and other challenges, the Tejas was once rejected as too heavy by the Indian Navy.
The Defense Ministry told parliament that Hindustan Aeronautics responded in October last year to a request for a proposal from the Royal Malaysian Air Force for 18 jets, offering to sell the two-seat variant of Tejas.
“Other countries that have expressed interest in the LCA aircraft include: Argentina, Australia, Egypt, the US, Indonesia and the Philippines,” Defense Secretary Ajay Bhatt told MPs in a written reply.
He said the country was also in the process of producing a stealth fighter jet, but declined to provide a timeline over national security concerns.
Britain said in April it would support India’s goal of building its own fighter jets. India currently has a mix of Russian, British and French fighter jets.
India aims to ground all of its Soviet-era Russian fighter jets, the MiG-21, by 2025 after a number of deadly crashes, the The Switzerland Times reported last month.