(This was originally posted in The Bangalore Mirror by Hemanth CS)
The Light Combat Aircraft TEJAS has left Indian shores to participate at an Air Show in Sri Lanka. This will be only the third time the indigenously designed and developed aircraft has flown out of the country, having in the past performed at the Bahrain International Air Show in 2016 and the Langkawi International Maritime Aero Expo (LIMA-2019) in Malaysia.
The TEJAS aircraft belonging to the Indian Air Force will participate in an Air Show at Galle Face, Colombo, scheduled from March 3 to 5 as part of the 70th anniversary celebrations of Sri Lankan Air Force.
The participation of the aircraft along with the flying display teams the Suryakirans and Sarangs assumes significance as the island nation is among the countries India is looking to export the 4.5 generation multirole flight aircraft.
The Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL) which manufactures the aircraft has in the past stated that countries from the Middle East, South East Asia along with some African countries have expressed interest in the TEJAS.
HAL has said that it is looking to set up logistic bases in some foreign countries and among them is Sri Lanka. Last year, HAL said that it was looking to set up a logistic basis in Sri Lanka, Malaysia, Vietnam and Indonesia to showcase and sell the capabilities of the TEJAS aircraft and other helicopter platforms manufactured by it. During the recently concluded Aero India, HAL Chairman R Madhavan speaking on the export capabilities of the TEJAS, said that some countries have evinced interest in the TEJAS and that each aircraft would cost about Rs 309 crore. The Sri Lankan Air Force has been looking to procure multi-role fighter jets to replace its aging fleet and the TEJAS is among the aircraft that are being pitched to the island nation.
The TEJAS program got a huge shot in the arm as the Cabinet Committee on Security cleared the Rs 48,000 crore deal to HAL for 73 MK-1A versions and 10 MK-1 Trainer TEJAS Aircraft. The contract was formally handed over to HAL during the Aero India.