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India has replied to a tender released by Royal Malaysian Air Force offering to sell 18 light-combat aircraft (LCA) "Tejas" to Malaysia. Argentina, Australia, Egypt, the United States, Indonesia, and the Philippines are also interested in the single-engine jet as per Defense ministry's statement.

Last year, Indian government had given a $6 billion contract to state-owned Hindustan Aeronautics Ltd for 83 of the locally produced Tejas jets for delivery starting around 2023 - four decades after it was first approved in 1983.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi's government has been trying to reduce India's reliance on foreign defence equipment and at the same time also been making diplomatic efforts to export the equipment abroad.

Defence ministry told parliament that Hindustan Aeronautics in October last year responded to a request for proposal from the Royal Malaysian Air Force for 18 jets, offering to sell the two-seater variant of Tejas.

In a written reply to an un-starred question asked in the parliament by MP Debasree Chaudhuri, India's junior defence minister, Ajay Bhatt, told members of parliament , "Other countries which have evinced interest in the LCA aircraft are: Argentina, Australia, Egypt, USA, Indonesia, and Philippines."

Answering the question of foreign exchange saved in exporting defence equipment, Bhatt further stated, “With focus of Government on indigenisation and procurement of defence products from the domestic resources, the expenditure on defence procurement from foreign sources has reduced from 46% to 36% in the last 4 (four) years i.e. from 2018-19 to 2021-22."

"Moreover, the Government, in the last four years i.e. from 2018-19 to 2021-22, has accorded Acceptance of Necessity (AoN) to 162 proposals worth Rs. 2,51,130 crore approximately, under various categories of Capital procurement from domestic sources," he said.

He said the country was also working on manufacturing a stealth fighter jet, but declined to given a timeline citing national security concerns.

Britain said in April it would support India’s goal of building its own fighter jets. India currently has a mix of Russian, British and French fighter jets.

India is looking to ground all its Soviet-era Russian fighter jets, the MiG-21, by 2025, following a number of fatal crashes, the Times of India daily reported last month.

India's LCA success story: Tejas

Tejas is the flagship indigenous defence equipment success of India. Tejas has been beset by design and other challenges, and was once rejected by the Indian Navy as too heavy.

Tejas is a single engined, light weight, highly agile, multi-role supersonic fighter. It has quadruplex digital fly-by-wire Flight Control System (FCS) with associated advanced flight control laws.

The aircraft with delta wing is designed for ‘air combat’ and ‘offensive air support’ with ‘reconnaissance’ and ‘anti-ship’ as its secondary roles. Extensive use of advanced composites in the airframe gives a high strength to weight ratio, long fatigue life and low radar signatures.

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