Made In India, LCA?

HAL Tejas MK 1 LCA. Indian Air Force

SHAH ALAM: Made in India, LCA? Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL) chairman R. Madhavan said the company was looking to export its Tejas LCA to Southeast Asia and Middle East countries soon. The export drive was boosted with the contract for 83 Tejas signed between HAL and the Indian Air Force on Feb 3.

The $6.5 billion deal is for 83 Tejas – 73 MK1A single seaters and 10 MK1 dual-seat trainers. Although the reports were ambiguous about its potential Southeast Asia customer it must be noted that only Malaysia had sought the RFI for the Tejas in the region.

HAL Tejas LCA. HAL

It is interesting to note that the HAL chairman told the media that the cost for a Tejas LCA was $42 million and $38 million for the trainer for the export market. For comparison, the Philippines in 2014 bought 12 Korean Aerospace FA-50PH light attack jets for $421 million or around $35 million per aircraft.

One of the two Tejas landing at the Langkawi airport in 2019. Alert 5 photo.

Indian newspaper the Print reported that the Tejas faced challenges in the export market

The main challenger for the Tejas Mark 1A, in terms of exports, is the joint Sino-Pak product, JF-17.

Defence officials, however, argued that the Tejas has superior performance since it has a better engine, radar system and electronic warfare suit, besides an edge in weaponry like the Beyond Visual Range missiles.

Refusing to name countries that have shown interest, Madhavan said they are from Southeast Asia and the Middle East.

Sources in the defence establishment, however, said half a dozen countries, including Sri Lanka and Egypt, have evinced interest in the aircraft.

HAL is looking at setting up logistics facilities in Malaysia, Vietnam, Indonesia and Sri Lanka to woo the countries to buy Tejas and military helicopters.

This is because having logistics facilities is key to selling the products and ensuring after-sales services.

HAL Tejas LCA. HAL

Tejas as most of you were aware was exhibited at the LIMA 2019 and it is likely that the aircraft would be again be featured at LIMA 21 if the event would have taken place this March.

Yakovlev Yak-130 Mitten performing a display at LIMA 2019. Zaq Sayuti.

— Malaysian Defence

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41 Comments

  1. Aah, HAL Tejas. The question that popped up immediately in my tiny Malaysian brain is this…when is the IAF going to get ‘this’ 83 Tejas? 2025, 2030 or 2050, when everyone here and elsewhere is dead and no one remembers there is this one plane (Tejas) that’s supposed to be flying initially in Indian markings? 🤔 I rest my case. Back to bed then…✌️

  2. No Tejas, please. I dunno what the deal was with the Indians but instead of Tejas they could’ve get the licence to locally produce Mirages instead and it would be far more capable.

    Rather get more Hawks than Tejas

  3. ASM – “they could’ve get the licence to locally produce Mirages instead and it would be far more capable.”

    It was/is a national interest thing; to develop the local industry and make them less reliant of foreign technology partners. The hope is that Tejas will be the catalyst for a platform in the next decades that will have a higher local content. Seen from this perspective license producing Mirages wouldn’t have cut it. The intention was also to develop a MRCA.

    ASM – “Rather get more Hawks than Tejas”

    Depends on what you want to do. I’m not into platform comparisons but Tejas (seen from its paper specs) is way ahead of Hawk in certain areas; especially in the air to air and ground attack role (unlike Hawk both these roles were planned for Tejas from Day One). Plus: it’s a newer platform with far more growth potential – Hawk has reached the end of its potential.

    I personally doubt Tejas has a chance but ultimately it depends on politics. What will the Indians offer in terms of industrial offsets? Will HAL have the full support/backing of the Indian government? Can HAL guarantee us uninterrupted and timely supply of spares? Will palm oil be accepted as part payment? Will we see a Tejas deal as a means of strengthening diplomatic/trade ties with India?

    The politics aside; growth potential, cost of spares, operating costs throughout its service period and what it has already been integrated/certified with; will be questions the RMAF will be seeking answers for when looking at all the contenders.

  4. No please ditch this Tejas if possible and with that 40M pricetag..A big no no..I’ll take mitten/jf17 instead of that Tejas

  5. The name Tejas sounds good in chemistry to us Malaysian. Hopefully, it goes the same with the machine. To add, in naming weaponry, just like the AV4 Lipan Bara, the next AV6 could be Kala Jengking and so forth.

  6. @Firdaus
    Mittens and JF17s are also not ON in my book. Mitten is the clone of the M346FA (why buy Russian again?) whilst JF17 is probably a decent LCA until one considers that it’s fitted with the same ‘smoky’ engine that powered our MiG 29s. Albeit improved …

  7. If we take their INSAS rifle and Arjun tank as benchmark of their local defence industry…. err, better to look elsewhere.

  8. @joe
    “Therefore most realistic choice is M346 Master as I predicted. Yuk yuk yuk…”

    And nobody dont want to argue that we have bought the Israeli made TALD and JHMCS. We also cannot rule out that KAI is willing to integrate any radar if the consumer required it.

    As for Tejas, on paper the MK1A sounds good and on platform per platform basis offered more feature that FA-50 but it had never been exported out yet let a lone being produced. Probabaly the Mk1 being offered by HAL to us. Like Azlan mentioned, politics, national interests and offsets are also on the table.

  9. For Flit FA-50/T-50 should be ok but need to replaced Israel made sensor to US/European made, T-7 also fine but may as well Gripen as option why go for LCA….

  10. Luqman – “ also cannot rule out that KAI is willing to integrate any radar if the consumer required it.”

    Unless the customer is committed to buying a large number; it will probably be the customer who has to pay for integration.

    Luqman – “As for Tejas, on paper the MK1A sounds good and on platform per platform basis offered more feature that FA-50

    Yes and as you pointed out the FA-50 is a much more mature design with a larger customer base. I could be wrong but the fact that it’s operated by neighbouring countries might also be a factor against its selection.

    It’s a tough choice requiring compromises/trade offs as something which meets our needs as a LIFT might not be suitable as a LCA and vice versa.

    It’s also not just the technical specs on a platform basis but various other factors relating to the aircraft which will determine selection. Also; the effectiveness of whatever is selected to perform as a LCA will also be dependent not just on the aircraft itself but other things. The actual platform is secondary.

  11. @Luqman
    “bought the Israeli made TALD and JHMCS”
    Nobody made a fuss…. yet. But you’d never know.

    “integrate any radar if the consumer required it.”
    Wrong. If the consumer is willing to pay for it. We OTOH aren’t that rich.

    @Tom Tom
    But…. Gripen skyhigh pricing is haram wor…

    @fadiman
    Boeing T-7 would be my pick if it had an LCA variant. Atm it is a pure advanced trainer, a very capable one even beats out TA-50.

  12. Fadiman – “For Flit FA-50/T-50 should be ok ”

    Of course it’s “ok”.

    Can serve as both a LCA and LIFT platform; widely operated and KAI has a wide presence and a good record. The question is whether our planners want a platform which is operated by neighbouring air arms and whether from a political perspective it’s the ideal choice.

    It would be great if it was only or mainly technical aspects driven by operational requirements which determine selection but unfortunately politics/national is interests play a big part too.

    Fadiman – “as well Gripen as option why go for LCA…”

    Even assuming we can afford Gripen it’s an overkill for a LCA and can’t serve as a LIFT..

    Also; we are going to consider Gripen we must as well bin the LCA programme and revive the MRCA one because Gripen is a lightweight single engine MRCA.

  13. If we go for 36 LCA/FLIT procurement in 2 batch, are gov will be proceed to get mrca after that.. I don’t think getting Indian combat aircraft is good idea event worse Russian or Chinese made.

  14. Eventhough im just a mere citizen..i kinda restless now that RMK12 not tabled yet..This will in a sense delay the procurement of LCA and many other things for all branch..Bad omens all over

  15. @joe
    “Wrong. If the consumer is willing to pay for it. We OTOH aren’t that rich.”

    I dont think I am wrong. KAI can integrated any radar as long as the consumer pays for it. Heck even anything that they are integrating right now (AMRAAMs, Sniper pods etc.) will or was paid for by the customer. Bottom line is, they can do it, regardless who pays for it.

    @Azlan
    ” I could be wrong but the fact that it’s operated by neighbouring countries might also be a factor against its selection.”

    The possibility of that happening might be there. It all depends on what RMAF and the Gov opinions though right? There is always pluses and minuses when neighbouring countries operates the same equipment.

  16. >mitten is clone of m346FA

    Nope. It was originally a yakovlev design. Aermacchi was roped into the project later because yakovlev didn’t have the money to complete the development

  17. In all honesty guys, I reckon the 346 is the front runner. It has the capability to do AA refueling which the KAI does not have yet. My understanding is the capability to refuel is important to the RMAF. It’s twin engine, so less likely to crash (how many Hawks have crashed I ask you?).

    I know many of you think the speed (M 1.2) is too slow, but this arm chair general thinks it’s enough. Also, it can have BVRAAM and anti ship missiles intergrated.

    Perhaps we can do a package where the RMAF trades in the 339s for 346s and ATRs.

    In my opinion, KAI and then HAL are the other options. Gripen is least likely because it more in the MRCA ballpark.

    Alas, the decisions will unfortunately be made by our petty simple minded politicians……so who knows for sure…

    Reply
    None of the crashes involving the Hawks were due to the engines, most of them were mostly due to pilot error as most of them were junior pilots. Gripen is not being considered for the LCA as it was never considered for it anyway. As I mentioned in the previous posts, yes, Leonardo is offering to barter trade the CMs for the 346.

  18. @dundun. You are correct. Mittens are the original design and the Master’s the clone. But the M346 Master is the better option with Honeywell engines rather than the original Mig aircraft.

  19. @Luqman
    You don’t get it. If the non-Israeli radar had been pre-installed and certified for use, us going for that option meant we wouldn’t need to pay for integration fees. However if we are the first to make that installation, we’d have to pay for integration fees our own unless there are other countries picking that same option (nearly impossible chance). We don’t have the luxury to be first in line.

    SG uses M346, Myanmar, Laos, Viet uses Yak130, Indo, TH & Pinoy uses T-50. If we’re going to base our buys on those not in use by our neighbours, well very few unsavoury options remains.

  20. “As does the FA-50…’”

    Any slightest chance we will consider the Saab x Boeing T-7 Red Hawk?

    Reply
    Very slight I believed

  21. @joe

    “You don’t get it. If the non-Israeli radar had been pre-installed and certified for use, us going for that option meant we wouldn’t need to pay for integration fees.”

    I do get it. Did i ever mentioned that we would NOT PAY for any integration fees of new radars? Nope. In fact, i clearly mentioned that new hardware integration will or was paid by every customer. Please do understand a read my comments carefully. If we indeed require for a non israeli radar to be installed on FA50, surely we will be the one who pays for the integration fees.

  22. In the history of RMAF procurement, it has been – mostly- proven, that western based aircraft is the most reliable in terms of serviceability and performance. F18 vs Mig29. F18 vs SU30. Where it tends to fail is when we continue to operate aircraft the manufacturers has chosen not to support further. In summary, doesnt matter what our neighbours want, choose the one that in the long run, it causes the least damage in terms of running cost, maintenance and readiness.

  23. @lightning97
    “Any slightest chance Boeing T-7”
    No chance atm really. The requirement is for both LCA & LIFT to be of same platform and so far T-7 is purely an advanced trainer. Boeing still haven’t develop a light strike fighter role for T-7 as yet. Unless we’re willing to pay for it…

  24. KO – “– mostly- proven, that western based aircraft is the most reliable in terms of serviceability and performance”

    Western aircraft – although more expensive to buy – are more cost effective in the long run as their radars, engines and other stuff have much longer TBOs/MTBD compared to Russian equivalents. From our perspective they also do away with the need for costly integration; as would be the case with Russian and other stuff.

    It’s telling that we get better hours and spend less time on post flight maintenance with the Hornets compared to the MKMs.

  25. Even if we are willing to pay..boeing must prioritise the production for us af first. So yeah theres that..The most logical step for us is to choose an already proven lca/flit platform in fa50 and ta50..12 fa50 + 6 ta50 for both batch..if any

  26. @Luqman
    “KAI is willing to integrate any radar if the consumer required it.”
    This is your statement is it not? If yes, then this statement is erroneous as KAI will NOT be willing to integrate any radar for free. Don’t assume KAI will be so generous just because ‘the consumer required it’. Somebody’s got to pay for it and we should not be the one. It comes back to my initial reply to you.

    If we aren’t willing to pay for integration of a non-Israeli radar into FA-50, then either we have to swallow it or not select this plane at all.

  27. Tom Tom – “I know many of you think the speed (M 1.2) is too slow, but this arm chair general thinks it’s enough”

    How does one really quantify and define “enough” and on what basis? It depends on the operational context and whether we’re talking about a LCA or a LIFT.

    Having a common LCA/LIFT platform is great from a commonality perspective but from an operational one is problematic : platform ‘z’ might be great as a LIFT but not as a LCA and vice versa. Depends on the trade offs we’re willing to make.

    On the LCA whilst many are fixated on the technical specs (speed, turn rate when carrying ‘’x’ thousand pounds, range of taser, etc) we can buy the most capable LIFT but it will account for nothing if we operate it on a platform level rather than a systems one.

    We need something we can afford to buy in numbers: something which won’t cost and arm and leg to support (cost of spares, number of post flight maintenance hours, cost of fuel per hour of flight, etc), something which has growth potential and something requiring little or no integration work. In tbt long run ideally we’ll also get.a simulator.

  28. Last time I heard the Serbian gov keen interested to purchased 20 T-7 for LCA n LIFT but it depend on US gov to approved it…

  29. @fadiman
    There was talk from Boeing but no commitments yet. If Serbia willing to pay for T-7 LCA development, then great! We could go in when the platform matures and the timing is right.

  30. @joe
    Will it T7 LCA cost an arm and a leg? Tejas is already over the $40 mil ballpark. Azlan and a few here has mentioned we also need numbers plus quality and easy integration. If the Serbs has some idea of how much they’re willing to spend, we can get to crunch the numbers …

  31. @Taib
    You should direct that question to fadiman. AFAIK T-7 trainer cost upwards USD $20mil each, so the LCA variant might possibly be doubled that ($40mil). As comparison FA-50 is USD $35mil. So for $5mil more, we could get a plane that USAF judged superior to its closest competitor and with USAF backing it it would have the brightest future amongst them all (longevity, spares, upgrade path, support, training, etc). All conjecture as that variant doesn’t exist past paper yet.

  32. Another left fielder if we can wait is TAI Hurjet. Its now in final development phase, just lacking engine type for integration. They are also looking for development partners. We’ve had close defence relations with Turkey so this is one area we could look at to develop local aerospace industry as well to locally assemble this plane.

  33. @joe
    Yup, the TAI Hurjet. But by the way things are going in Turkey, it maybe a good 3-5 years before we see a pre-production Hurjet. The USAF T-7 is one pretty little trainer. If it’s priced @ $40 million apiece, that would be great. But again, it’s an extreme longshot. We’ll probably see an M346FA or FA50 wearing RMAF roundels quicker than we see a T7 or Hurjet flying in Asian skies.

  34. Not really..we need the lca and lift platform like right now..like today mainly to replace hawk n macchi and yep indirectly patch the hole left by mig29 grounding and prepare our pilots for mrca..Even we decided to jv for hurjet still need trial and what not and that will take ages to complete..All still in the air as of now

  35. True that and i believe they/boeing still need to prioritize the production for usaf need first right..so when can we expect we receive the t-7 if we go for them?

  36. Nak lca/l if t fast and cheap it would be the chinese supplier. The ft 2000 and jl15 priced between usd15 mil to usd25 mil. Drawbacks are creating new logistical foot prints and non congruent or compatability issues with our existing Western based equipments, not to mention political sensitivity due to uighur and scs and indb issue

  37. Probably capability & compatibility with current fleet is not the primary consideration. More likely, which supplier is able to accept a part barter trade with palm oil. If this is the case, then the Pakistani & Indian aircraft would be frontrunners, followed by the Chinese & Russians. The European & Korean options will be last.

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