India’s state-owned Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL) is in talks with at least four countries to sell Tejas, Light-Combat Aircraft (LCA), while it faces a tough battle to win the contract in Malaysia, the company’s Chairman informed the media in a press conference held on the sidelines of the ongoing biennial Aero India show in Bengaluru on 14 February.
According to C B Ananthakrishnan, Chairman and Managing Director of (HAL), India is in advanced talks with both Argentina and Egypt for the sale of Tejas Mk-1A indigenous fighter aircraft, besides Botswana has also expressed interest. Malaysia has shortlisted the Tejas light fighter jet for an order of around 16 planes but there has been a “slight setback” amid stiff competition with a Korean FA-50 rival, he said.
“We have not received anything in black and white, but we are hearing that Koreans will get the order,” Ananthakrishnan said. “Notwithstanding that, still we are making our attempts to push through our product.”
HAL is also in talks with the Philippines to sell its Advanced Light Helicopters, he added. The deal with Egypt will also include setting up a Maintenance, Repair and Overhaul (MRO) facility there.
“There is a lot of interest generated in the global aerospace market. Sooner or later we will have a breakthrough order,” he said.
Giving details of the other export deals, Anathakrishnan said Argentina has shown keen interest in the Tejas and its pilots even travelled to India to test the aircraft. Incidentally, Chief of the Argentine Air Force is attending Aero India 2023 and holding talks with top Indian Air Force (IAF) officers and HAL officials. He informed that Argentina is looking to acquire at least 15 aircraft. Egypt, on the other hand, is keen to acquire 20 Tejas in a deal that would also involve setting up an MRO facility there to aid the local defence ecosystem.
The Indian government in 2021 gave a $6 billion contract to HAL for 83 of the locally produced Tejas jets for delivery starting next year. HAL plans to use the General Electric manufactured 414 engine on a second generation of light-combat aircraft, Ananthakrishnan said, adding it was in talks to produce those engines in India.