Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL) chairman, Shri C.B. Ananthakrishnan, has announced at Aero-India 2023 that the company is in talks with Egypt and Argentinian officials to secure a contract to supply 35 TEJAS MK-1A to the nation’s armed forces.

Under the contract, the company would supply 35 TEJAS MK-1A Hindustan Aeronautics Limited, which manufactures the TEJAS Aircraft, are attempting to sign an agreement with Egypt’s and Argentina’s defence ministries to deliver the aircraft.

The scope of the agreements is reported to include a complete transfer of technology (ToT) to Egypt, as well as encouraging the manufacturing of the Tejas Aircraft within Egyptian territory. At the same time, the contract with Argentina will involve replacing its ageing fleet of Lockheed Martin’s A-4AR Fightinghawk.

Chandan Kumar Nayak, defence analyst at Global Data, says: “Over the last few years, there has been an increased focus on indigenisation, which has reoriented local defence manufacturers to explore foreign markets. At present, Indian defence equipment manufacturers are focusing on enhancing their R&D and manufacturing capabilities to support indigenous programmes.”

In September 2022, HAL inducted the Indian Army with their first indigenously developed Light Combat Aircraft (LCH).

 “If these deals are signed, then the TEJAS MK-1 will be the first combat aircraft to be exported from India to another nation. GlobalData estimates the deals will generate revenue of $1.5-2 billion for HAL.”

HAL’s Tejas is a light multirole and single engine 6.5t fighter aircraft designed for the Indian Air Force and Indian Navy. The 6.5t fighter jet’s noticeable hardware, software features and advanced technologies are quadruple fly-by-wire digital automatic flight control.

Its navigation suite includes a Sagem SIGMA 95N ring laser gyroscope inertial navigation system with an integrated positioning system. The Tejas also has a 23mm twin-barrelled GSh-23 gun and Derby BVR missiles.

India’s HAL selling the Tejas aircraft would make a mark in the foreign defence market. Although it is early to say if India’s increase in research and development spending is making a difference, it is undoubtedly a positive sign that they are exporting aircraft to unfamiliar business partners.

GlobalData reports in “Argentina’s Defence Market – Attractiveness, Competitive Landscape and Forecasts to 2027” that Canada took responsibility for almost half of its defence imports between 2016-2020. India is one of the significant contributors of defence imports to Asian countries such as Myanmar and Sri Lanka but is not commonly known to export to Egypt and Argentina.

Chandan Kumar Nayak continued: “GlobalData expects that the contracts will strengthen the domestic aerospace and defence industry in India besides helping the country achieve its vision of developing more advanced aircraft with indigenized components.”

The deal would make Egypt and Argentina the first nations to procure the TEJAS MK-1. The fighter jet is already being used domestically, primarily by the Indian Air Force.

The talks of an agreement come a few weeks after Army Technology reported that Egypt is attempting to modernise its aircraft inventory to drive defence expenditure.