India's Tejas aircraft emerges as Malaysia's top choice for its new fighter jet programme
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.
Malaysia 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, Chairman and Managing Director of Hindustan Aeronautics Limited, R Madhavan, told PTI in an interview.
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.
''I am very confident about it unless some political shift takes place,'' Madhavan said when asked whether the deal would be closed soon.
The top executive of the state-run aerospace behemoth said if the deal is sealed, it will give a ''very good signal'' to other prospective buyers of the aircraft and boost its overall export potential.
''It (the negotiation) is almost in the final stages. We are the only country which is offering them the support for their Su-30 aircraft as other than Russia, we are the only one who can support them to the extent that they require for the Sukhoi fleet,'' Madhavan said.
A team of high-ranking officials and experts is expected to visit India soon to take forward the procurement process.
Madhavan said 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.
Tejas, manufactured by HAL, is a single-engine and highly agile multi-role supersonic fighter aircraft capable of operating in high-threat air environments.
''We actually are the only one who covered everything that they require and we met their budget requirements as well,'' Madhavan said.
''Nobody will offer them upgrades so fast as we would offer. They will have an alternative available in Tejas Mark 2 and they can even think of AMCA,'' the HAL chief added.
He said HAL is going to maintain the same level of services to Malaysia as it has been giving to the IAF.
According to the plan, the HAL would start delivering the jets (Mk-IA variant) to the IAF in 2025 and all 83 jets will have to be handed over by 2030.
Madhavan said if the deal with Malaysia is sealed, it will signal the acceptability of the aircraft, which would result in the opening up of many other options.
''We now have a very good platform. It is the best in this category,'' he said.
(This story has not been edited by Devdiscourse staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)