Malaysian Air Force team To Soon Assess Tejas Fighter
The Tejas aircraft now serving the IAF has proved to be a formidable aircraft even in its MK1 version. A more improved and powerful version MK1A is under progress. It will be followed by Tejas Mk2.
A very attractive feature of this immensely potent fighter is the low priced at just Rs 295 crores( $42 million) per unit, a price made possible given economies of scale after the IAF placed an order for 83 fighter jets. This will make it the most lucrative aircraft on offer to Malaysia in the global scenario. Besides the Gripen and the JF 17, the South Korean T 50 is also a contender for the contract. Though Pakistan has also been pitching hard for its JF 17 fighter, its Chinese origins are likely to be an important consideration given that Malaysia has ongoing sea boundary disputes with Beijing.
A Malaysian Air Force team is expected to visit India soon to assess the suitability of the light combat aircraft (LCA) TEJAS, the indigenously developed system that has recently been ordered in large numbers by the Indian Air Force. The Malaysian team is likely to visit Bangalore within two months and will be given a full tour of the LCA production facilities, test infrastructure as well as a demonstration of its combat potential.
The Indian TEJAS has emerged as a top contender for the Malaysian Air Force as besides being formidable, it is being offered at cheaper rates than the Swedish SAAB Gripen. Also in front of it the China origin JF-17 stands nowhere. India is offering the TEJAS MK-1A version, with a modern AESA radar, new avionics and the capability to integrate a variety of weapons, for the potential export order and is confident that the aircraft will be an ideal fit for the Malaysian requirement. The initial requirement is for 12 jets, with options for 24 more in the future.
Together with full support in training of both ground and air personnel, India has offered to create a full maintenance, repair and overhaul facility for the TEJAS fleet in Malaysia to ensure a high rate of availability. India has been in talks with Malaysia on the potential order for more than three years now. In 2019, India had dispatched two of its TEJAS fighters for the LIMA show at Langkawi as part of its efforts to pitch the jets for the export order. India and Malaysia have also been engaging in multi-level joint exercises and training programmes as part of plans to upgrade defence cooperation.