India bids to sell fighter jets to Malaysia, says six other countries interested

An Indian Air Force (IAF) “Tejas” light fighter jet flies during the “Aero India 2021” air show at Yelahanka Air Base in Bengaluru, India, Feb. 3, 2021. REUTERS/Samuel Rajkumar/File Photo

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NEW DELHI, Aug. 5 (Reuters) – India has offered to sell 18 light fighter 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 Indian government last year awarded a $6 billion contract to state-owned Hindustan Aeronautics Ltd (HIAE.NS) for 83 of its locally produced Tejas jets for delivery from 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.

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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,” India’s junior defense minister, 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. read more

India aims to ground all of its Soviet-era Russian fighter jets, the MiG-21, by 2025 after a number of deadly crashes, the Times of India reported last month. read more

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Reporting by Krishna N. Das; Editing by Christina Fincher

Our Standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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