India has offered to sell 18 Tejas light combat aircraft to Malaysia, the Indian Defense Ministry said on Friday, adding that Argentina, Australia, Egypt, the United States, Indonesia and the Philippines are also interested in the single engine. Jet.
The Indian government last year awarded a $6 billion contract to state-owned Hindustan Aeronautics Ltd to buy 83 domestically produced Tejas jets for delivery starting around 2023 — four decades after they were first approved in 1983.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s government, which is keen to reduce India’s dependence on foreign defense equipment, is also making diplomatic efforts to export aircraft. The Tejas have struggled with design and other challenges, and were once dismissed by the Indian Navy as being too heavy.
The Ministry of Defense informed Parliament that Hindustan Aeronautics in October last year responded to a request for proposal from the Royal Malaysian Air Force for 18 aircraft, and offered to sell the two-seater Tejas version.
“The other countries that have shown interest in the LCAs are: Argentina, Australia, Egypt, the United States, Indonesia and the Philippines,” Indian Defense Minister Ajay Bhatt told MPs in a written response.
He said the country was also working on a stealth fighter jet, but declined to give a timeline citing national security concerns.
Britain said in April it would support India’s goal of building its own combat aircraft. India currently has a mix of Russian, British and French combat aircraft.
The Times of India daily reported last month that India is looking to ground all of its Soviet-era Russian combat aircraft, the MiG-21, by 2025, after a number of fatal crashes.