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India Renews Push to Make Argentina First Foreign User of Tejas

India is renewing its push to sell its Tejas lightweight fighter jet to Argentina to secure a first export customer for the multi-role combat aircraft.

The Indian Embassy in Buenos Aires recently announced a meeting between Ambassador Dinesh Bhatia and Argentine Air Force official Fernando Luis Mengo to discuss the potential purchase of the Tejas and Indian-made rotary-wing platforms.

The new government of Argentinian President Javier Milei has been looking for a new fighter jet to bolster the country’s aerial fleet after it decommissioned its Dassault Mirage jets in 2015.

Negotiations to include the Tejas aircraft in the Argentine Air Force inventory started early last year, but the previous administration failed to award a contract.

New Delhi is expected to bank on its previous defense collaboration with Argentina to bolster its proposal. Last year, the South American nation contracted Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL) to modernize its helicopter fleet.

HAL is also the manufacturer of the Tejas.

About the Tejas

The Tejas is a supersonic fighter aircraft designed to replace the Indian Air Force’s aging squadron of Soviet Union-made MiG 21 fighter jets.

It has an active electronically scanned array radar and a sophisticated electronic warfare suite.

The fighter can also be armed with air-to-air, air-to-ground, and anti-ship missiles, precision-guided munitions, rockets, and bombs with minimal reloading time to support various combat needs.

Recently, a new variant of the Tejas aircraft flew for the first time with a digital fly-by-wire flight control computer. It also successfully fired the ASTRA beyond-visual-range missile.

If the Argentine Air Force selects the Indian-made fighter jet, 18 aircraft could be procured.

Tough Competition

India is expected to go up against two big competitors for Argentina’s new combat aircraft.

The US is reportedly offering used F-16 fighter jets, which would be taken from the Royal Danish Air Force inventory.

China is also proposing its lightweight Chengdu/PAC JF-17 Thunder, developed in collaboration with Pakistan.

The aircraft has a state-of-the-art avionics suite and is said to have excellent air-to-air and air-to-surface combat capabilities.

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