India Optimistic To Sell Hal Tejas Light Combat Aircraft to Malaysia

India Optimistic To Sell Hal Tejas Light Combat Aircraft to Malaysia
LCA Tejas at Aero India show in Bengaluru

New Delhi - In June 2021, the Malaysian Ministry of Defense (MoD) released a tender for the acquisition of 18 Light Combat Aircraft/Fighter Lead-In-Trainer (LCA/FLIT) units. The reason is, Malaysia is looking to modernize the defense equipment owned by the Royal Malaysian Air Force (RMAF). This is Malaysia's effort to strengthen its Air Force in order to be able to face the coming threats.

Quoted from Defense Security Asia, India offered the Tejas aircraft to the RMAF. The Tejas aircraft itself is a native Indian product that was developed domestically. The Tejas is currently in service with the Indian Air Force and is in the final stages of development.

Quoted from Defense Security Asia, Indian media have very high confidence that Tejas will be awarded a contract estimated to be worth more than RM4 billion to supply 18-36 FLIT/LCA aircraft to Malaysia.

Tejas' victory in the Malaysian FLIT/LCA tender is very important for Inda because it will prove his ability in the defense industry. India wants to prove to China and Pakistan that it has a competitive defense industry and has customers all over the world.

The Indian Air Force itself is known to be equipping the Tejas aircraft with a Joint Direct Attack Munition (JDAM) kit made in the United States. The JDAM will enable the Tejas to carry out precision strikes on enemy positions within 80 km. JDAM will ensure Tejas is able to carry out precise strikes in the border areas that are always volatile with both China and Pakistan.

A senior Indian Air Force official who declined to reveal his identity to the country's local media claimed that the Tejas was much better than the Chinese and Pakistani JF-17s. "The Tejas fighter is much better than the JF-17 fighter jointly developed by China and Pakistan," he said.

Malaysia's decision is likely to benefit HAL due to Indian BVR missiles such as the all-weather Astra missile, advanced data links, and spare parts for the Su-30 MKM. Furthermore, the Tejas deal could be followed by BrahMos missiles for the Royal Malaysian Air Force (RMAF).

Quoted from Defense View, next month, a high-level Malaysian delegation is rumored to be visiting India. Most likely, the deal will be signed by then. If this is true, India will resume major exports to ASEAN countries after previously sending BrahMos supersonic missiles to the Philippines.

In the process, India has a competitor in winning the favor of Malaysia. India's two competitors are China with the JF-17 and Korea with the FA 50 made by Korean Aerospace Industries. State-owned LCA manufacturer Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL) has been competing for a contract with Malaysia as the country wants to buy a fleet of fighter aircraft and has faced fierce competition with South Korea and Turkey.

Previously, South Korea's FA 50 Golden Eagle was touted by some analysts as the final winner of the tightly contested deal. However, developments from Malaysia actually indicate that the victory goes to LCA Tejas Mk1A.

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