HAL, which had submitted a proposal to the Malaysian ministry of defence for supply of 18 Fighter Lead-in Trainer (FLIT) LCAs against a global tender issued by RMAF in October 2021, was among eight countries to respond to RMFA’s tender. Tejas was later among the two, the other being KIA FA-50, to be shortlisted by Malaysia.
On Tuesday, HAL CMD CB Ananthakrishnan said: “…We were very hopeful of getting the contract from Malaysia given that we were among the two shortlisted out of eight companies that participated. But there has been a slight setback in the sense that it looks like the other company is getting the order. Although we have not got anything in black-and-white (writing), what we are hearing now is that Malaysia may select the Korean plane.”
He added that notwithstanding the recent developments, HAL continues to make efforts. Other than Tejas and KIA FA-50, the other aircraft that had been pegged as potential contenders were the Sino-Pakistani JF-17, Italian M-346 and the Russian Yak-130 have been named as the potential contenders.
Sweetening the deal
Further sweetening the deal, HAL, as part of the offsets, also offered to set up an MRO (maintenance, repair and overhaul) complex, offer aviation management courses and local manufacturing of aero structures with Malaysian entities aimed at enabling human capital development and strengthen capabilities of Malaysian entities for other programmes too.
India’s very own LCA Tejas touches the sky with glory with its air manoeuvres
Being one of the largest producers of Russian-origin Su-30 aircraft, HAL has even said it could extend support to RMAF for Su-30 MKM fleet which is facing low serviceability issues due to the ongoing Russia-Ukraine crisis.
In fact, HAL was so confident after Tejas was shortlisted that it even announced plans to establish an office in the country’s capital — Kuala Lumpur (KL) — on August 17, 2022.
Upbeat about the deal at the time, HAL was hoping the office would help tap new business opportunities for FLIT LCA and other requirements of the RMAF like Su-30 MKM and Hawk upgrades. However, the office is yet to be established.
Argentina, Egypt interested
Still confident on Tejas’ export potential, Ananthakrishnan said HAL had some very good leads for the aircraft from various countries.
“Argentina and Egypt have definitely shown interest. Argentina also has seen two teams visit us and they are quite convinced about the product and quite happy about the product details. Their airforce team has come and flown the aircraft also. So, we are pursuing Argentina and want to start some sort of a relationship building. A contract is likely to get signed,” he said.
Ananthakrishnan said while Argentina was in discussion for around 15 LCAs, Egypt had been given a proposal for around 20 aircraft. “We are yet to hear from them, but further discussions will take place and we are also interested in setting up an ecosystem with them,” he added.
Healthy order book
On HAL’s financial condition, he said: “We are in a very comfortable and very happy frame of mind. In the sense that in the last three years, the push for Atmaranibhar Bharat, changing geopolitical situation have seen good tidings for the defence ecosystems of the country in general and HAL in particular.”
As on date, he said, HAL had an order book worth Rs 84,000 crore while orders worth another Rs 50,000 crore were in the pipeline.