Talks with Argentina and Egypt are in advanced stages for the Light Combat Aircraft (LCA). Responding to a question and sharing details about the ongoing discussions with the South American nation for the fighter jets and Egypt, CB Ananthakrishnan, acting chairman of the Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL) said that the talks with Argentina are positive and an announcement for a small contract is expected soon. He however did not indicate what the contract is going to be.
According to him, the Argentinian side has shown keen interest in the LCA `Tejas’ and its pilots have been here in India to test the aircraft. Financial Express Online had reported earlier this week that a high level delegation is at the Aero-India 2023 to hold talks with the top leadership of the state-owned Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL) and the Indian Air Force (IAF) which is already flying this aircraft. Brigadier Xavier Isaac — chief of the Argentine Air Force – is attending Aero India along with pilots to test the aircraft.
“The Argentinian side is keen to acquire atleast 15 LCA. What is being offered to them is LCA Mk-1A,” said the HAL chairman.
HAL & Exports
According to the CMD of HAL, talks with the two countries for almost 35 `Tejas’ Mk-1A are on track. Besides negotiating a deal to sell 20 LCA to Egypt, the deal will also include setting up a Maintenance, Repair and Overhaul (MRO) facility in that country which will aid the local defence ecosystem.
The Philippines is another country where HAL is soon going to sell six Advanced Light Helicopters (ALH), said Ananthakrishnan. Last year the Asean member nation has already signed a contract with India for the supersonic BrahMos cruise missile.
What happened to the talks going on with Malaysia?
While nothing has been conveyed to HAL, it seems Malaysia is not looking to purchase two squadrons of `Tejas’ and has considered the South Korean FA-50 manufactured by Korean Aerospace Industries (KAI).
Also Read: https://www.financialexpress.com/defence/aero-india-2023-the-stage-for-hal-to-seal-deals-for-lca-tejas-mk-1a-with-argentina-and-malaysia/2979629/
Said the CMD, “We were shortlisted in Malaysia. However there has been a slight setback. Though nothing has been conveyed to us officially, we hear that South Korea has the edge. However, we are still trying.”
Which were the other competitors in Malaysia?
South Korea’s FA-50, the Sino-Pakistan JF-17, Russian Yak-130 and M-346 from Italy’s Leonardo. As has been reported earlier in Financial Express Online the `Tejas’ was preferred as it came with the most advanced features. Though the South Korean FA-50 is costlier than what India is offering, according to sources the KAI is trying to match the HAL’s offer.
Also Read: https://www.financialexpress.com/defence/turbulence-for-hal-in-malaysia/2720648/
IAF & LCA
To another question related to the delivery of the 83 LCA Mk-1A, contract for which was inked in 2021, according to the CMD the first LCA-Mk-1A is expected to be delivered in 2024 which is in line with the terms of the contract. According to the contract 16 aircraft have to be delivered per year and the HAL is focused on ensuring that the delivery is faster in an effort to ensure that it can execute additional possible orders for the Mk-1A and also Tejas-Mk-2.