India’s light combat aircraft Tejas has emerged as Malaysia’s “top choice” for replacing its fleet of Russian MiG-29 fighter planes, Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL) chairman R Madhavan said. “I am very confident about the deal, unless some political shift takes place,” Madhavan added. If the deal is sealed, it will give a “very good signal” to other buyers, he said.

Tejas, India’s very own single-engine fighter jet, has emerged as the ‘top choice’ for Malaysia, which is looking to replace its fleet of the ageing MiG-29 combat aircraft, R Madhavan, chairman, Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL), has said.

“I am very confident about the deal, unless some political shift takes place. The negotiation is almost in the final stages. We are the only country which is offering Malaysia support for their Su-30 aircraft as, other than Russia, only India can support Kuala Lumpur to the extent they require for their Sukhoi fleet,” Madhavan said in an interview to news agency PTI.

As part of the overall package, India has offered to set up in the southeast Asian nation, an MRO (Maintenance, Repair, Overhaul) facility, for the Russian-origin Su-30 fighters. As western nations have imposed sanctions against Russia in retaliation to Moscow’s ongoing ‘special military operation’ in Ukraine, Malaysia is facing difficulties in procuring spares for its Su-30 fighters.

A team from Kuala Lumpur is expected to visit India soon to take forward the procurement process.

Why Tejas?

According to Madhavan, the Malaysian government also looked at China’s JF-17, South Korea’s FA-50, as well as Russia’s MiG-35 and Yak-130 jets. However, the HAL chairman and MD described Tejas as a ‘much superior’ aircraft.

About Tejas

Designed by the Aeronautical Development Agency (ADA), Tejas is manufactured by the Bengaluru-based HAL. It is based on the Light Combat Aircraft (LCA) programme, and got its present name in 2003. It is also capable of operating in high-threat environments.