India, Malaysia Defence Minister-level talks focus on LCA Tejas and Su-30 MKM fleet

Source : The Economic Times

India, Malaysia Defence Minister-level talks focus on LCA Tejas and Su-30 MKM fleet
Defence Minister Rajnath Singh had a conversation with Malaysia’s Senior Defence Minister, Mr Hishamuddin bin Hussein, via video conference (Tweeted by @AIR)

India and Malaysia held top defence-level talks on Monday, with a focus on the Tejas Light Combat Aircraft (LCA) offer as well as sustenance of the Russian origin Su30 MKM fleet of the Malaysian Air Force. The talks took place via video conferencing between defence minister Rajnath Singh and Malaysia’s senior defence minister YB Dato ‘Seri HishammuddinTun Hussein.

It is learnt that the Indian offer for 18 of the Tejas fighter jets to meet a Malaysian requirement was discussed at length. As reported, India has offered a dual package for the indigenous fighter jets as well as maintenance of the Su30 MKM aircraft being operated by Malaysia.

While several rounds of technical discussions on the Indian aircraft have already taken place with the Tejas emerging as the frontrunner in a competition with South Korean and Chinese origin jets, a government-to-government deal could also be in the offing.

“The defence minister highlighted the areas in which Indian defence industries could assist Malaysia. He suggested a visit of senior officers from Malaysia to India to get a first-hand experience of the facilities and products of the Indian defence industry,” the Indian defence ministry spokesperson said.

Singh also extended an invitation to Hussein to visit India at an early convenient date to discuss closer and strategic defence ties. “A wide range of issues concerning bilateral, regional and defence industrial cooperation were discussed during the meeting,” said the spokesperson.

The Indian offer of an attractive financial package for its Tejas and commitment to keep Malaysia’s fleet of Su30 jets flightworthy, has placed it as a frontrunner for a Malaysian competition to acquire new combat aircraft. Other contenders for the deal are unable to offer this package as they do not have backend contracts with Russian manufacturers to work on the Sukhois.

The Malaysian air force has been looking for 18 new light fighter jets with several nations, including South Korea, Pakistan, China and Sweden, making a pitch. The Indian offer is for the LCA Mk1A version, 83 of which are on order by the Indian Air force. The aircraft is equipped with a modern AESA radar, latest avionics and the capability to integrate a variety of western as well as Russian-origin air-to-air and air-to-ground weapons. India also has the indigenous Astra beyond visual range air-to-air missile that will be integrated on the fighter.

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