Negotiations with the Malaysian Ministry of Defense for the Tejas Mk 1A light fighter are being finalized, India’s Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL) said.
According to HAL Chairman and Managing Director R Madhavan, an agreement is expected to be made soon between HAL and the Malaysian MoD, and that they are sure of winning the tender unless a political shift takes place.
India is expecting that should Malaysia become its first export market for the Tejas, it would improve the chances of selling the aircraft to other countries.
So far, India has been struggling to gain the Tejas’ first export market, as it competes with the Sino-Pakistani PAC JF-17 Thunder, South Korea’s KAI FA-50 Fighting Eagle, and Russia’s Yakolev Yak-130 Mitten and Mikoyan MiG-35 Fulcrum-F fighter.
HAL claims that the Tejas Mk 1A is superior to the JF-17 and FA-50 in terms of technological specification, and ability to improve the aircraft in the future.
Aside from supplying the Tejas light combat aircraft, HAL also offered to assist the RMAF in maintaining its fleet of Sukhoi Su-30MKM Flanker fighter aircraft, as importation of spare parts and services are affected by Western sanctions to Russia.
HAL will establish a Maintenance Repair and Overhaul (MRO) facility in Malaysia to support its Su-30MKM fighter fleet, as part of the deal to sell the Tejas fighters.
The offer for an MRO facility appears to be the biggest factor for Malaysia’s selection of the Tejas, considering India is the only other country capable of supporting the Sukhoi Su-30 aside from Russia, being the largest user of the type.
The new light combat aircraft will replace the RMAF’s fleet of Russian-made Mikoyan MiG-28N/NUB Fulcrum fighters, which were retired from service a few years ago due to poor serviceability.