Tejas Light Combat Aircraft (LCA)
The low cost and simple design of Tejas makes it attractive for cost-conscious countries in Asia. By 2019, state-owned Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL) was working on an order of 123 such jets ordered by the Indian Air Force. The Tejas Mark 1A, which has just entered mass production, is being offered for export at a standard price of approximately $43 million per aircraft, much less than the price of a new F-16. Singapore, Egypt, and Sri Lanka had earlier shown interest in the jet, but they never revealed the status, officially, of such interest.
Malaysia has shown keen interest in India's home-grown Tejas fighter jet; a week after light combat aircraft manufacturer Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL) received final operational clearance for manufacturing fully weaponized version of the jet. A report in Indian Daily Business Standard suggested that Malaysian defence minister has asked New Delhi to send a Tejas fighter to the Langkawi International Maritime and Aerospace Exhibition 2019 (LIMA'19) Malaysia's premier defence exhibition being held from March 26-30.
"There is significant overseas interest in buying the Tejas light fighter. HAL is pursuing imminent opportunities in South-east and West Asia," HAL chief R Madhavan told Business Standard while not disclosing the prospective customers.
Malaysia was reportedly keen on buying around 30 light fighters. Malaysia is expected to give orders for Tejas MK-1 aircraft that will be equipped with battle-ready capabilities, including mid-air refuelling, AESA radar, electronic warfare suites, and smart bombs.
On 4 January 2019, Sputnik reported that Tejas has been given the final go-ahead for its full-scale manufacture by the Centre for Military Airworthiness and Certification, the regulatory body for certification and qualification of military aircraft and airborne system.
United Arab Emirates (UAE)
In October 2018, Mohammed Ahmed Al Bawardi Al Falacy, the UAE's minister of state for defence affairs had shown interest in the low cost and simple design fighter jet developed by HAL. He visited HAL facilities in Bengaluru and received a briefing of the ongoing projects in HAL. He visited HAL facilities in Bengaluru and received a briefing of the ongoing projects in HAL. He was taken around the Helicopter Complex, LCA Tejas Division and Hawk final assembly hangar.
He was received by Shri R Madhavan, CMD-HAL and other senior HAL officials. The visiting dignitary was briefed on the ongoing projects in HAL and taken around the Helicopter Complex, LCA Tejas Division and Hawk Final Assembly hangar. "I am happy to be here and proud to see the sophisticated level of manufacturing that is in place", Mohammed Ahmed Al Bowardi Al Falacy remarked.
The UAE minister also visited the Indian Air Force's Aircraft and Systems Testing Establishment (ASTE), which conducts flight testing of aircraft, airborne systems and weapon stores, prior to their induction.
In September 2018, the long-delayed Tejas program successfully demonstrated its air-to-air refueling capability during a trial involving an Ilyushin Il-78MKI tanker. The successful refueling test was described as a big leap in the developmental stage and brightened the chances of the fighter jet getting a final operational clearance certificate sooner. However, despite claiming recent successes, such as the integration of I-Derby beyond-visual-range air-to-air missile and other avionics, Tejas was running far behind schedule to secure final operational clearance from the Indian Air Force in December this year.
The Indian Air Force is for the first time participating in the annual multinational large force employment warfare exercise, Desert Flag VI, hosted by the United Arab Emirates Air Force which began on 04 March 2021. The other countries taking part in the exercise scheduled from March 3 to 27 include Bahrain, France, Saudi Arabia, South Korea and the US. The IAF is participating with six Su-30 MKI, two C-17 and one IL-78 tanker aircraft. C-17 Globemaster will provide support for induction and de-induction of the IAF contingent, an IAF statement said. Teh Tejas was absent. Separately, IAF chief Air Chief Marshal R.K.S. Bhadauria arrived in Colombo on a two-day visit coinciding with the 70th anniversary celebrations of the Sri Lankan Air Force. The air show at Galle Face in Colombo will see the participation of an IAF contingent comprising Suryakiran aerobatic team, Sarang helicopter display teams and Tejas Light Combat Aircraft (LCA).