India’s 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 LCA Mk-1A to the nation’s armed forces.
The aircraft deal will see HAL supply 35 Tejas LCA Mk-1A to Egypt, as well as provide a complete transfer of technology (ToT) for Egypt to produce the aircraft locally. Egypt has projected a requirement for 20 aircraft.
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.
“Egypt has also shown interest in creating a local aerospace ecosystem. We will help facilitate that. Two teams from the Argentine Air Force have visited HAL and flown the LCA,” said Ananthakrishnan.
If successful, the deal would make Egypt and Argentina the first nations to procure the Tejas LCA Mk-1. The fighter jet is already being used domestically by the Indian Air Force. India and Egypt began collaboration late last year when Indian Defense Minister Raksha Mantri Shri Rajnath Singh on 19 September, met with his Egyptian counterpart in Cairo, to discuss and sign a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) aimed at enhancing military and security cooperation between both nations.
Raksha Mantri Shri Rajnath Singh also met with Egypt’s President al-Sisi, where they discussed cooperation and focus on joint training, defence co-production, and maintenance of equipment and also exchange expertise in countering the threat of terrorism.
The diplomatic visit includes a discussion on the status of India’s bid to sell the indigenous Tejas MK1A light combat aircraft to Egypt in a deal that could include setting up a production facility in Egypt.
Early his year, India and Egypt sought to deepen military cooperation, including between their defence industries, and India’s foreign secretary. Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi held talks with Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi in New Delhi as part of a state visit where met business leaders and was a guest of honour at India’s Jan. 26 Republic Day.
In June 2022, HAL offered its LCA-Tejas to be used as lead-in fighter training (LIFT) for the Egyptian requirement for 70 LIFT aircraft as it plans to retire Chinese-made 100 K-8E trainer aircraft. Several aircraft manufacturers also indicated interest to supply training aircraft, with Grob Aircraft, Sierra Nevada, Aero Vodochody and Leonardo already negotiating.
The Egyptian Air force (EAF) is in the market for a new trainer aircraft to replace its ageing fleet and to train its student pilots for the newly delivered Rafale fighter jet, and incoming Sukhoi Su-35 fighter jet. However, Ananthakrishnan said HAL may have been edged out by a Korean aircraft maker in a contest to sell new fighter jets to Malaysia.
In December 2022, Egypt’s Arab Organization for Industrialization (AOI) entered a cooperation agreement with Korean Aerospace Industries (KAI) to localize the manufacturing technology of T-50/FA-50 Golden Eagle advanced trainer jet and light combat aircraft. KAI pushes to sell its FA-50/T-50 Golden Eagle jet to the North African nation, while Egypt plans on exporting the aircraft to third parties.