The government said on Friday that the US, Australia, Indonesia and the Philippines are among the six countries that have expressed interest in India’s Tejas aircraft, while Malaysia has already shortlisted the jet under its acquisition programme. According to Minister of State for Defense Ajay Bhatt, the other two countries that have shown interest in the aircraft are Argentina and Egypt.
The Tejas, manufactured by Hindustan Aeronautics Limited, is a single-engine multi-role combat aircraft capable of operating in high-risk air environments. In February last year, the Ministry of Defense signed a Rs 48,000-crore contract with HAL to procure 83 Tejas light fighter jets for the Indian Air Force (IAF).
Responding to a question in the Lok Sabha on Tejas, Bhatt said that HAL responded to the Request for Information (RFI) or preliminary tender from the Royal Malaysian Air Force in February 2019. Subsequently, HAL responded to the RFP in October 2021. RFP) issued by Malaysia for 18 aircraft, featuring a twin-seat version of the Tejas.
Malaysia is buying the aircraft to replace its aging fleet of Russian MiG-29 fighter jets. The number of planes Malaysia is considering buying was not immediately clear. He said that other countries that have shown interest in LCA aircraft are Argentina, Australia, Egypt, USA, Indonesia and the Philippines.
Last month, HAL’s then chairman and managing director R Madhavan had said that the Tejas aircraft had emerged as the best choice for Malaysia. To a separate question on whether the government plans to develop a stealth fighter jet, Bhatt said “yes” and said the “autonomous flying wing technology demonstrator” has been successfully tested by the Defense Research and Development Organization (DRDO).
Further, the required information is of sensitive nature and its disclosure is not in the interest of national security, he said.
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