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India hard sells indigenous fighter Tejas, plans exports –Must watch video inside

India plans to export indigenous fighter jet Tejas to friendly countries (IANS)

India is actively looking at exporting Tejas—the indigenous fighter aircraft under the 'Aatmanirbhar Bharat Abhiyan', policy. The Light Combat Aircraft (LCA) is listed for exports among 156 items of defence equipment as the government plans to boost arms export to friendly nations.

India showcased the aircraft at the 13th biennial Aero India 2021, with a grand display of its capabilities and manoeuvres at the Yelahanka air base. The fighter has been designed and developed by the Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) and built by Defence Public Sector Undertaking (DPSU) Hindustan Aeronautics Limited, (HAL).

 (Video courtesy: Bharat Shakti website)

Defence Minister Rajnath Singh aroused interest in the fighters when he recently said that many foreign nations have shown interest in buying India's home-made fighter. Singh also tweeted, saying: "Tejas is not only indigenous, but it is also better than its foreign equivalents on several parameters and also comparatively cheaper…"

With the government clearing the procurement of 83 Tejas fighters, the India-made LCA will soon become the mainstay of the Indian Air Force (IAF). In January, the Cabinet Committee on Security (CCS), headed by Prime Minister Narendra Modi, approved the purchase of the 83 Tejas jets at a cost of Rs 48,000 crore. Of these, 73 will be fighters while ten will be trainers.

HAL is marketing the jet as a 4.5 generation fighter with a view to attracting potential buyers. The jet incorporates many new technologies which will make it attractive to potential customers.

IAF chief RKS Bhadauria has said that the Indian aircraft is more advanced than the China-Pakistan joint venture fighter aircraft JF-17. Bhadauria supported the big-ticket acquisition of the jets by the IAF.

India is pitching the jet to foreign buyers as a direct competition to the China-Pakistan joint venture JF-17. HAL says that the Indian jet is superior due to a better engine, the Beyond Visual Range missiles, improved electronics and radar system.

R Madhavan, Chairman and MD, HAL, announced that countries from Southeast Asia and the Middle East have shown interest in the Tejas jets.

Madhavan told Indian news agency PTI that the Tejas Mark 1A jet has superior performance levels compared to China's JF-17 combat aircraft as it has a better engine, radar system and electronic warfare suit, besides an edge in the overall technology. "The biggest difference, of course, is the air-to-air refuelling which is non-existent in the competitor's plane," Madhavan said.

The arrival of the Indian jet will spice up the defence airspace in Asian and African countries though the China-Pakistan venture enjoys a head start. It is believed that the JF-17 is currently in use with Pakistan, China and Myanmar. Nigeria has evinced interest along with Zimbabwe in procuring the jets.

There have been news reports that the Pakistan Air Force (PAF) has been experiencing issues with the JF-17 and large numbers of the jets have been grounded.

HAL also plans to set up logistics facilities in Asian countries to be able to not just sell but also provide maintenance and after sales services to countries that may buy the jets. The company is also looking at selling its helicopters to various countries.

Over the last few years, India has ramped up defence exports. With Tejas, those exports just might soar.