Ambassador Dinesh Bhatia met Brigadier General Xavier Isaac, Chief of Air Force of Argentina & discussed initiatives to further amplify bilateral engagements between India & Argentina in Defence Sector

The demand for the Light Combat Aircraft (LCA) TEJAS in the world military market is increasing due to their unique features. As equivalent aircraft from other countries are expensive and require high-maintenance, TEJAS is gradually getting ready to thunder in the sky around the world. After Malaysia, Colombia and several other countries, now South American nation Argentina has shown interest in buying TEJAS. External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar confirmed this during his visit to the country.

External Affairs Minister Dr. S Jaishankar acknowledged Argentine interest in the TEJAS fighter aircraft and highlighted the importance of the proposal in enhancing the strategic quotient of bilateral relationships. A joint press statement issued by both countries after the Joint Commission Meeting said, “EAM, acknowledging Argentine interest in the Made in India TEJAS fighter aircraft for Argentine Air Force, highlighted importance of the proposal in enhancing strategic quotient of the bilateral relationship.”

External Affairs Minister Dr. S. Jaishankar and Argentina Minister of Foreign Affairs Santiago Cafiero jointly presided over the Joint Commission Meeting in Buenos Aires. During the meeting, both sides underscored the importance of bilateral ties in defence, nuclear energy, space, pharma, science and technology, yoga, climate change and economic cooperation.

It is notable that Argentina is the first Latin American nation to show interest in acquiring TEJAS for its air force. Before this, several other countries including Australia, Egypt, the USA, Indonesia, and the Philippines have shown interest in buying the fighter made by Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL).

India and Argentina discussed several other issues, and one of the most significant among them was a proposal to conduct bilateral trade in local currencies. The joint statement said that both countries will ask their Central Banks to carry out studies for the development of a payment mechanism in local currencies so that they don’t have to depend on third-party currencies like the Dollar and Euro.

The govt of Argentina also informed that India has expressed its support for the inclusion of Argentina in an expanded BRICS group.

During his South America visit, the External Affairs minister visited Brazil and Paraguay apart from Argentina. During this visit, S Jaishankar inaugurated the premises of the newly opened Indian Embassy in Paraguay and participated in Joint Commission Meetings (JCM) with his counterparts in Brazil and Argentina.

Atal Bihari Vajpayee Named The TEJAS

TEJAS is a single-engine light combat aircraft manufactured in India. It is a lightweight multi-role fighter jet. Aeronautical Development Agency (ADA) has designed TEJAS in collaboration with Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL). The ADA works under the Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) under the Ministry of Defence. Hindustan Aeronautics Limited is an Indian state-owned aerospace and defence company.

In the 80s, India started the project of making Light Combat Aircraft (LCA) to replace the old MiG-21 fighter aircraft. In 2003, the TEJAS was officially named TEJAS. It was named TEJAS by former Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee. TEJAS means brightness. It is the smallest and lightest of its class of supersonic fighters.

Different Variants of TEJAS

TEJAS got approval for initial operations in 2011 and then final operations in 2019. The first squadron of this aircraft was ready for operation in 2016. Currently, India manufactures three variants of the fighter plane, including TEJAS MK-1, TEJAS MK-1A, and TEJAS Trainer. Work is underway to develop another variant TEJAS MK-2 which is expected to be ready by 2026.

The Ministry of Defence had signed a Rs 48,000-crore deal with Hindustan Aeronautics in February last year to procure 83 TEJAS for the Indian Air Force (IAF). Apart from this, the IAF’s top air fleet currently includes Sukhoi Su-30MKI, Rafale, Mirage, and MiG-29. In 2023, the delivery of TEJAS to the Indian Air Force will start.

Salient Features of The TEJAS

50 percent of the spare parts of TEJAS are made in India. It uses Israel’s anti-radar technology. It can hit 10 targets simultaneously. It needs a runway of only 460 meters to fly, due to which it can easily take off from any warship and land back on it. Its total weight is 6500 kg. Its maximum speed is 2205 kilometers per hour.

This fighter jet can be installed with anti-ship missiles. Equipped with laser-guided missiles, it can hit air-to-air, air-to-ground, and air-to-water. It can fly with arms and missiles equivalent to Sukhoi. It can reach an altitude of 52 thousand feet by flying at the speed of sound. Tejas can refuel in the air and be ready to fight again. This is much more robust than its counterpart China’s JF-17 and Korea’s fighter jets.