Financially struggling Hindustan Aeronautics Ltd (HAL) is eyeing to win the contract of supplying indigenously developed Tejas fighter jet to Malaysia, according to reports. The development has come amid worsening diplomatic relations between India and Malaysia after Mahathir Bin Mohamad, the Malaysian Prime Minister, sided with Pakistan over the Kashmir issue at the United Nations.
According to a report by the Print, Tejas is one of the shortlisted aircraft by the Malaysian Air Force for the supply of 36 new Light Combat Aircraft. It will be HAL's first foreign sale if it manages to win the contract.
The Malaysian Air Force is expected to issue a request for proposal (RFP) for the new contract in the year 2020. Besides Tejas, the other contenders participating in the process include China-Pakistan's JF-17, South Korea's T-50 Golden Eagle, Russian YAK-130 and the BAE Systems' armed Hawk.
Moreover, Swedish Gripen - which is also in the race to supply 114 medium multi-role combat aircraft under the Make in India initiative to the Indian Air Force (IAF) - is also participating in the bid.
HAL sources have confirmed that Tejas will be transformed as per the requirements given by the Malaysian Air force. In September, a Malaysian team had visited HAL headquarters and deliberated with the officials on the project.
Tension in India- Malaysia Relation
HAL's push for the deal may be an uphill task as the diplomatic relations between the two countries have witnessed strain recently over the Kashmir issue. India, the world's top palm oil consumer, was reportedly cutting down on imports from Malaysia, the second-largest producer after its PM Mahathir Mohamad condemned India's stance on Kashmir.
How Tejas can be beneficial for Malaysian Airforce?
One of the major advantages that Tejas has over the other aircraft in foray is its better avionics and weapon system. Tejas can also be integrated with both Russia and Western weapons as Malaysia uses both Russian manufactured Sukhois and US-made F/A-18 Hornets. Moreover, Tejas uses the GE F404 engine which is also being used to power F/A-18s, another positive factor which may benefit HAL.
Refuting any fears of delay in supply to the existing orders from the Indian Airforce, the source added that any possible deal with a foreign country would not affect the delivery to IAF. HAL has already made arrangements to ramp up its production from the current level of 8 to 16.