DELHI, India: India's defense ministry has said that the country has offered to sell 18 Tejas light single-engine jet combat aircraft to Malaysia, adding that other countries were also interested in purchasing the jets.
Four decades after it was first approved in 1983, in 2021 the Indian government awarded a $6 billion contract to state-owned Hindustan Aeronautics for 83 of the locally produced Tejas jets for delivery, starting in 2023.
Aimed at reducing India's reliance on foreign defense armaments, Prime Minister Narendra Modi's government is also making diplomatic efforts to export the Tejas, whose rollout was slowed by design issues and other challenges.
The Teja was previously rejected by the Indian Navy, as being too heavy.
The defense ministry told parliament that in October 2021, Hindustan Aeronautics responded to a request for a proposal from the Royal Malaysian Air Force for 18 jets, offering to sell a two-seater variant.
In a written reply, India's junior defense minister, Ajay Bhatt, told members of parliament, "Other countries which have evinced interest in the LCA aircraft are Argentina, Australia, Egypt, the U.S., Indonesia and the Philippines."
India is also developing a stealth fighter jet, he added, but he declined to offer a timeline for its completion.
In April, the UK said it would support India, which currently has a mix of Russian, British and French fighter jets, in its goal to build its own combat aircraft.
Last month, the Times of India reported that following a number of fatal crashes, India is looking to ground its Soviet-era Russian fighter jets, the MiG-21, by 2025.