Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL) will formally respond next month to a Royal Malaysian Air Force Request for Proposal for India’s LCA (Light Combat Aircraft) Mk1 A fighter, The Indian Express reported, citing HAL’s chairman.
Chairman of the state-owned military aircraft manufacturer, R Madhavan, told the outlet that India stands a “very good chance” to bag the 18 aircraft contract despite stiff competition from eight contenders. There is also the probability of a follow-up order for 18 more jets.
“There are many countries which are showing interest in LCA Mk-1A. Malaysia has issued the Request for Proposal and we are responding to it. It has to be sent in the third week of September. We stand a very good chance. There are eight more contenders, including the US, China, and Russia,” Madhavan said.
Interest From Other Regions
The chairman revealed that the fourth generation Indian-made aircraft has also attracted interest from Eastern Europe, South Asia, West Asia, and South America.
“We see whether there is a demand from those countries and if they are trying to upgrade their air forces. Malaysia was in the process of upgrading its capabilities. We have been in business with them for the last two years,” the HAL chairman said.
The LCA Mk1A is an upgraded version of the Tejas Mark 1 aircraft operated by the Indian Air Force (IAF). Thirty-two Tejas have been delivered to the IAF, out of which 16 are of the Initial Operational Clearance standard. The remaining fighters are of the more advanced Full Operational Clearance standard.
$6.4 billion Contract For 73 Mk 1A
The Indian government awarded a Rupees 48,000 crore ($6.4 billion) contract to HAL in February for the procurement of 73 Mk 1A and 10 Tejas Mk 1 trainer aircraft for the IAF by 2030.
According to The Print, HAL plans to conduct the Mk 1A’s first flight by the end of 2022 and deliver one squadron (18 aircraft) to the IAF by 2024.
The Mk 1A reportedly has four major upgrades over its predecessor: mid-air refueling capability; improvement in the operational role; maintainability; and enhanced combat ability through the incorporation of active electronically scanned array (AESA) radar, electronic warfare (EW) suite, and beyond-visual-range (BVR) missile capabilities.
The supersonic aircraft has a service ceiling of 15 kilometers (9.3 miles) and can carry a payload of 3,500 kg (7,716 pounds). HAL signed a $716 million deal with GE Aviation this week for the procurement of 99 F404 aircraft engines and support services for the aircraft.