In a development that could herald a new dawn for India’s LCA Tejas fighter jets, the Malaysian Air Force team is arriving in India to “assess the suitability” of the fighter for a possible procurement order.
India’s homegrown Tejas aircraft was recently ordered by the Indian Air Force (IAF) in large numbers, as it tries to bolster its squadron strength.
According to the report in Economic Times, the Malaysian team would be visiting Bengaluru within two months to have a tour of the LCA production facilities.
The travel schedule will also depend on the pandemic restrictions in the country. The team would also be given access to the test infrastructure and a demonstration of the fighter’s combat capabilities, the paper quoted a source in the Indian government.
India is reportedly pitching the Mk1A version of the LCA Tejas which boasts of a modern AESA radar, new avionics, and the capability to integrate a variety of weaponry to the Malaysian Air Force.
Malaysia may likely order a total of 12 such aircraft, with a potential order of 24 more fighters in the future, the reports said.
Why LCA Tejas Jets For Malaysia
Malaysia has shortlisted the LCA Tejas as a top contender for the contract of its 36 new Light Combat Aircraft, on the back of low cost and modern combat capabilities. The experts are viewing this as the first potential sale for India’s indigenous aircraft, with the jets of other countries falling short of satisfying the Malaysian air force.
Manufactured by Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL), LCA Tejas is said to have a unique advantage – that it is equipped with advanced avionics and weapon system than other fighters in the race for the Malaysian Air Force contract.
Another major advantage the Indian fighter offers is the ease of weapons integration – Tejas can be integrated with Russian as well as Western weapons, which could prove a boon for the Malaysian Air Force which operates jets of both the blocs.
The Swedish Gripen jets have proved to be expensive, and the capabilities of Pakistan’s Chinese-origin JF-17 were reportedly found to be lacking as compared to Tejas, whereas another contender, the South Korean T-50, does not stand much of a chance, as per reports.
Malaysia has been showing interest in the Indian fighter for a long time now, and after a few setbacks in the bilateral relations last year, there had been uncertainty over the feasibility of the fighter sale.
However, there seems to be a renewed optimism in the two countries’ relations after a long pause.
The Indian Air Force recently signed the contract for the acquisition of 83 Tejas Mark 1-A fighters, which in addition had already ordered 40 LCAs in two batches. The LCA Tejas is set to be the backbone of the future fleet of the IAF.