HAL Tejas

India still seeks to sell the HAL Tejas fighter to Argentina

Argentine Air Force competition is expected to have the F-16 announced as the winner, according to reports, but the Indian government’s effort to launch a home-made fighter remains

The Indian government still keeps alive the dream of achieving the first export of the home-made Tejas fighter, manufactured by Hindustan Aeronautics Limited.

A sign is that the country’s ambassador to Argentina, Dinesh Bhatia, met on February 6 with the head of the local air force to discuss the acquisition of fighters and helicopters for the service.

During the previous government, Argentina had approached India and China to find a multirole fighter capable of replacing the retired Mirage IIIs in the country’s air defense.

Argentine Air Force Commander Fernando Luis Mengo and Indian Ambassador Dinesh Bhatia

While Chengdu and Pakistan’s PAC offered the JF-17 Thunder III, India made a proposal with the Tejas, a small fighter developed for the Indian Air Force.

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The change in administration, now with ultra-rightist Javier Milei, and pressure from the United States, changed the tide in favor of a package with 24 second-hand F-16A/B fighters, which will be passed on by Denmark.

According to Argentine media reports, the decision had already been made in favor of the Lockheed Martin aircraft.

The Biden administration would have even managed to circumvent the United Kingdom’s sanctions on arms sales to Argentina, in force since the Falklands War, more than 40 years ago.

Royal Danish Air Force F-16 fighter
Royal Danish Air Force F-16 (RDAF)

The Tejas uses UK-made Martin Baker ejection seats, which prevented a deal with HAL. The company was willing to look for an alternative, but the proposal does not seem to have been sufficient.

The Indian offer would involve 18 fighters, but it is not known whether the two-seat variant, which recently flew, would be included.

As of now, HAL does not have a foreign customer for the Tejas.


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