India looks to sell LCA Tejas to Royal Malaysian Air Force
05 April 2019
Malaysia, which is looking to replace the aging fleet of Royal Malaysian Air Force’s fighter planes is reported to have shown interest in India's indigenous supersonic Light Combat Aircraft, Tejas, which is both cheap and agile.
India had showcased the Tejas at the Langkawi International Maritime and Aerospace 2019 (Lima) Exhibition in Malaysia, late last month, as part of Indian Air Force’s No 45 squadron that represented India at the defence expo.
Tejas, manufactured by Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL), along with the Russian YAK-130, Sino-Pakistani's JF-17 jet Pakistan and Korea Aerospace Industry's FA-50 Golden Eagle are among the frontrunners to replace the RMAF ageing and unserviceable fleet of fighter planes
With the Malaysian economy on a low key, the RMAF is able to fly only a handful of fighters at any given point of time, given the high cost involved in maintaining the aircraft. The Malaysian government is now looking at a lighter and cheaper aircraft for its air force in order to reduce cost of maintenance as well
Royal Malaysian Air Force has a current fleet 18 Sukhoi SU-30MKM, eight Boeing F/A-18D Hornet and about 20 BAE Hawks.
Malaysian Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad has made it clear that his country "will think of buying airplanes from China or any other country" after the European Union proposed plan to end the use of palm oil in biofuels. Malaysia is the world's second-largest producer of palm oil and its exports from the country comprised 29 per cent of the global palm oil trade. Palm oil also contributed $9.7 billion to the country’s export earnings in 2017.
Mahathir's statement has deterred major European vendors and BAE System's Typhoon, Dassault Aviation's Rafale and Saab's Gripen are no longer in the race for RMAF contract.
Following Mahathir Mohamad's statement, the major European fighters - BAE System's Typhoon, Dassault Aviation's Rafale and Saab's Gripen – are no longer in the running to equip the RMAF.
During Lima 2019, Malaysian news agency Bernama spoke to HAL Chairman and Managing Director R Madhavan who sounded confident that Tejas is a fighter which will be able to fulfil the requirements of the RMAF.
"I do think we can offer a good package for Malaysia. We are the largest manufacturing company in this part of the world for aeronautics and aerospace and we have a range of products which we can provide Malaysia. Indian Air Force has been using Tejas since 2016 and we have also received over 120 proposals to replace their old jets, pending orders from them,” Bernama quoted him as saying on Sunday.
HAL has so far brought out 16 Tejas aircraft, after receiving initial operational clearance (IOC) for the IAF.