The Chairman and Managing Director of Hindustan Aeronautics Ltd (HAL), CB Ananthakrishnan, revealed on Wednesday that Nigeria, Philippines, Argentina, and Egypt have expressed keen interest in procuring India’s indigenously-developed Tejas Light Combat aircraft. Ananthakrishnan shared that ongoing discussions were underway with these nations regarding potential procurement deals.
Specifically highlighting Nigeria, Philippines, and Egypt’s interest in acquiring the Tejas Light Combat aircraft, Ananthakrishnan stated that talks were progressing positively, indicating the enthusiasm these countries hold for the Indian-made fighter jets.
However, Ananthakrishnan acknowledged the potential complication regarding the supply of Tejas jets to Argentina, given that the aircraft includes components sourced from the United Kingdom. The UK’s historical embargo on military sales to Argentina following the 1982 Falklands War might pose hurdles in supplying hardware manufactured in the UK to Argentina, raising challenges for India in facilitating such transactions.
Notably, in July, Argentina’s defence minister visited India, focusing on strengthening defence industrial partnerships. HAL had previously entered an agreement with the Argentinian Air Force to provide spares and services for its two-tonne class helicopters, showcasing the budding defence ties between the two nations.
India’s defence relations with the Philippines have witnessed an upsurge, notably culminating in a substantial deal worth USD 375 million in January for the procurement of BrahMos cruise missile batteries. These developments highlight the growing interest and collaboration in defence engagements between India and various nations.
The Tejas, known for its capability as a single-engine multi-role fighter aircraft, is designed to operate effectively in high-threat air environments. It serves diverse roles, including air defence, maritime reconnaissance, and strike capabilities, positioning itself as a pivotal asset for the Indian Air Force (IAF).
Having already inducted nearly 40 initial variants of the Tejas, the IAF continues to strengthen its fleet, with a Rs 48,000 crore deal finalized in February 2021 for the procurement of 83 Tejas MK-1A jets. Furthermore, an initial approval was granted by the defence ministry last month for the procurement of an additional batch of 97 Tejas jets, underscoring India’s commitment to bolstering its air force capabilities.
India’s Tejas aircraft has been a focal point of the country’s indigenous defence manufacturing prowess, drawing interest from diverse international quarters. The inclination of countries like Nigeria, Philippines, Argentina, and Egypt towards procuring the Tejas underscores India’s growing stature as a reliable supplier of cutting-edge defence technology.
However, the intricacies linked with the UK-sourced components in the Tejas pose a potential hurdle, particularly in supplying to Argentina due to historical embargoes. This challenge prompts a need for diplomatic and strategic solutions to navigate potential restrictions and ensure seamless supply chains for the aircraft.
The burgeoning interest in India’s Tejas aircraft reflects not only its advanced capabilities but also the collaborative potential between India and various nations in strengthening defence ties and fostering technological cooperation, signifying a broader evolution in global defence alliances and engagements.