Aviation : India's very own 'Tejas' aircraft

India’s little fighter jet Tejas is yet to be put into operational service after formal commissioning later this year. The aircraft took part at the Bahrain International Airshow in January, following which Egypt and Sri Lanka have expressed their interest asking for more information as potential buyers.

Sri Lanka recently aborted a plan to acquire JF-17 fighters, designed by China and built by Pakistan, while dismissing speculation that it was swayed by any diplomatic pressure from India. For India, the decision appears as a tactical victory in efforts to stave off Chinese influence with Indian Ocean nations.

Egypt, traditionally friendly with India, is deeply interested in discussing Tejas as a frontline tactical interceptor, and for training, even though the country has recently signed on for 24 Rafale fighters. India’s state-owned Hindustan Aeronautics Ltd. (HAL), which builds Tejas, plans to ramp up production to 16 or more aircraft per year from nine, to meet the external demand. Although, HAL’s primary commitment is to the Indian Air Force for now, the Ministry of Defence has cleared an extensive marketing campaign for the Tejas to potential customers abroad. Therefore, there will be a significant activity toward enhancing production targets.

HAL is in parallel discussions with Sweden’s Saab to sign it up as technological partner for the Mk2 version of Tejas. Saab has also offered to separately build its new-generation ‘Gripen NG’ in India under the ‘Make in India’ manufacturing initiative that seeks to incentivise local production.

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