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HAL in talks with four nations to sell light-combat aircraft Tejas

Malaysia has short-listed the Tejas light fighter jet for an order of around 10 to 20 planes

BENGALURU: Hindustan Aeronautics Limited is in talks with at least four countries to sell its light-combat aircraft, the company’s top executive said on Tuesday, as the Centre looks to triple defence exports over the next two years.

Malaysia has short-listed the Tejas light fighter jet for an order of around 10 to 20 planes and Argentina, Egypt and Botswana have also expressed interest, HAL chief managing director CB Ananthkrishnan told reporters at a conference during Aero India, the country’s biggest aviation event.

HAL is also in talks with the Philippines to sell its light-combat helicopters, he added.

“There is a lot of interest generated in the global aerospace market. Sooner or later we will have a breakthrough order,” he said.

India has been one of the world’s biggest importers of defence equipment for decades, but it has punched below its weight in the global arms export market.

The Centre, on Monday, spelt out ambitions to more than triple the value of annual defence exports to $5 billion over the next two years which is being backed by diplomatic efforts to export the Tejas.

The government in 2021 gave a $6 billion contract to HAL for 83 of the locally-produced Tejas jets for delivery starting around 2023 - four decades after the design began in 1983. The Tejas has been beset by design and other challenges, and was once rejected by the Indian Navy as too heavy.

HAL plans to use the General Electric manufactured 414 engine on a second generation of light-combat aircraft, Ananthkrishnan said, adding it was in talks to produce those engines in India.

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