He added that the company expects its first export order in the next couple of years as a number of countries had already shown interest in procuring the fighter, which cost a tad about $43 million apiece for the fighter version and tad less than $40 million for the trainer.
One major reason behind his optimism about export orders is the Tejas Mark 1A’s superior performance compared to China’s JF-17 fighter. The Indian plane has a better engine, radar system and electronic warfare suite and also enjoys a clear edge in overall technology. “The biggest difference, of course, is the air-to-air refuelling which is non-existent in the competitor’s plane,” he told the agency.
To bolster its export efforts, HAL is planning to set up logistics bases in Sri Lanka, Vietnam, Malaysia and Indonesia. The UAE and a few other friendly countries are also believed to have shown initial interest in the Tejas.
Madhavan added that HAL will increase its capacity beyond 16 aircraft a year, with considerable support from the private sector, to meet export demand as and when such orders are received so that its timelines for delivery of the jets to the IAF do not suffer.
Once that happens and India enters the global market as a supplier of fighter jets, its arms industry will truly have come of age.