India’s Tejas light combat aircraft has emerged as the top choice for Malaysia as the Southeast Asian nation looks at replacing its ageing fleet of fighter jets and the two sides are holding negotiations to firm up the procurement. The Royal Malaysian Air Force has narrowed down on the Indian aircraft notwithstanding the stiff competition from China’s JF-17 jet, South Korea’s FA-50 and Russia’s Mig-35 as well as Yak-130. As part of the package, India has offered to set up an MRO (Maintenance, Repair and Overhaul) facility in Malaysia for its Russian-origin Su-30 fighter fleet as it is facing difficulties in procuring spares for the aircraft from Russia in view of western sanctions against Moscow.
It is learnt that the Chinese JF-17 was cheaper but could not match the technical parameters of the Tejas Mk-IA variant and the offer of maintenance of the Su-30 fleet as proposed by India. A team of high-ranking officials and experts is expected to visit India soon to take forward the procurement process. Malaysia is procuring the aircraft to replace its ageing fleet of Russian MiG-29 fighter planes. The number of aircraft that Malaysia is looking at procuring is not immediately clear. Tejas is a much superior aircraft compared to JF-17 and FA-50 and that the selection of the Indian aircraft would provide Malaysia with the option to go in for future upgrades of the fleet. HAL is going to maintain the same level of services to Malaysia as it has been giving to the IAF.
In early 2022, HAL signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with MMTC Ltd – a public sector firm, as a channelizing partner to facilitate the import of palm oil as a counter-trade to any potential sale of the HAL Tejas to the RMAF. HAL also signed another MOU with Boustead Heavy Industries Corporation (BHIC) – a major Malaysia-based defense contractor, to fulfill another mandatory condition of the RMAF – stipulating that the winning contender must locally procure at least 30% of products or services from Malaysian companies in the deal; the HAL-BHIC joint venture would offer a provision of “Depot Level Maintenance” i.e. providing reliability, availability, maintainability and supportability (RAMS) to the RMAF, should HAL win the FLIT/LCA tender,
The HAL Tejas is an Indian, single engine, delta wing, light multirole fighter designed by the Aeronautical Development Agency (ADA) in collaboration with Aircraft Research and Design Centre (ARDC) of Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL) for the Indian Air Force and Indian Navy. It came from the Light Combat Aircraft (LCA) programme, which began in the 1980s to replace India’s ageing MiG-21 fighters but later became part of a general fleet modernisation programme. In 2003, the LCA was officially named “Tejas”. It is the smallest and lightest in its class of contemporary supersonic combat aircraft. Tejas, manufactured by HAL, is a single-engine and highly agile multi-role supersonic fighter aircraft capable of operating in high-threat air environments.