• 01 April, 2023
Geopolitics & National Security

Defence Exports: Royal Malasian Air Force Team to Visit India for LCA Evaluation

Sun, 04 Apr 2021   |  Reading Time: 2 minutes

Soon after securing a $5.2 billion massive order from IAF for supplying 83 LCA Mk-1As fighter aircraft, India’s state-owned aerospace giant Hindustan Aeronautics Limited now has a great opportunity to export this single-engined indigenously designed and developed aircraft to a Southeast Asian country. According to a report in Economic Times on 03 April, an expert crew from Royal Malaysian Air Force (RMAF) is likely to visit Bengaluru soon to evaluate the capabilities as well as suitability of Light Combat Aircraft Tejas as the Indian multi-role fighter seems to  emerge as top choice of Malaysian Air Force. Further, the other aircraft manufacturers that responded to the RMAF’s  light fighter requirements were Saab Gripen E, Yakovlev Yak-130, KAI’s FA-50, Leonardo M-346FA and Chengdu-PAC JF-17 Thunder.

The current offer from HAL is for the latest variant called LCA Mk-1A being developed for Indian Air Force. Apart from providing training to both ground and air crew, HAL has also proposed better serviceability for Tejas fleet as Indian aircraft manufacturer is considering to create a local Maintenance & Repair Organisation (MRO) facility in Malaysia. During the visit which is likely in near future, the Malaysian team will be given a full demo of LCA’s capabilities and performance. HAL will also invite the team for a full tour of Tejas testing and production infrastructures.

Priced at $42 million a piece, the latest LCA Mk-1A is a new-generation iteration of Tejas Mk-1 packed with more robust avionics (modern AESA radar) defensive suite (Electronic warfare suite) and highly advanced weapons package including indigenous new-generation Astra Mk-1 BVRAAM, MBDA, ASRAAM and RCI’s lightweight SAAW. In 2019, the Indian 4.5 generation light multi-role fighter  made its debut in Malaysian Air Show at Langkawi International Maritime and Aerospace Exhibition (LIMA-2019). The HAL-made combat jet generated massive interest during its flight display at the Air Show, it was the first time when Indian-made fighter aircraft exhibited its agility and manoeuvring skills  in an International Air Show.

Indian LCA Tejas would provide better cost benefits compared to expensive aircraft like SAAB Gripen, while it packs significantly better technologies and combat skills than aircraft like China-Pak JF-17 Thunder, Yak-130 and M-346FA. However, Korean FA-50 is also among the top contenders in Malaysian light combat aircraft acquisition. The Malaysian Air Force initially will procure 12 light fighters under the program, and a clause for 24 more will also be there in the Malaysian procurement deal.

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