Argentina has shown interest in the indigenously-designed-and-manufactured Tejas light combat aircraft by India, which is about to bag the first export from Malaysia for 18 of them.
While Tejas has evoked interest from some other countries, including the US as well, Argentina has emerged as the first Latin American country to evince interest in the Made-in- India aircraft.
Acknowledging the Argentine interest in the Tejas, External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar highlighted the importance of the proposal in enhancing the “strategic quotient of the bilateral relationship”.
He had gone there on Friday to take part in the Joint Commission meeting with his counterpart Santiago Cafiero.
Besides the US and Argentina, Australia, Egypt, Indonesia and the Philippines too are keen to buy the aircraft manufactured by the public sector Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL).
Incidentally, the Government last year placed an order with the HAL worth over `47,000 crores for 83 Tejas jets for the IAF. Delivery will start from next year. Confident of bagging the contract to export 18 Tejas to Malaysia, the HAL will now set up an office in Kuala Lumpur. Giving details, the HAL said last week it inked a Memorandum of Understanding(MOU)in this regard in Bengaluru.
The office in Malaysia will help HAL in tapping the new business opportunities for Fighter Lead-in Trainer (FLIT) LCA (Tejas) and other requirements of Royal Malaysian Air Force (RMAF) like Su-30 MKM and Hawk upgrades.
It will reinforce the commitment of India in supporting the Malaysian Defence Forces and industry for sustainable aerospace and defence landscape in Malaysia.
As regards the meeting between Jaishankar and his Argentine counterpart, the two leaders agreed to firm up ties whilst simultaneously agreeing to increase engagement in defence and trade. Both countries have also agreed to “request the Central Banks to carry out studies for the development of a payment mechanism in local currencies” so that trade between the two countries can transpire without the use of a third currency.
Meanwhile, Argentina said India has expressed its support for the country’s membership in an expanded Brazil, India, Russia, China and South Africa (BRICS) grouping. This has been part of ongoing discussions between the two Foreign Ministers, dating back to the bilateral meeting between the two Ministers on the sidelines of the Bali G20 Foreign Ministers’ meet, held earlier this year in July.
Countries like Iran, and Algeria are also keen to become a member of the over-decade-old grouping which has Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa.
The External Affairs Minister was on a visit to South America, during which he visited Brazil, Paraguay and Argentina. While in Brazil and Argentina, he co-chaired the Joint Commission Meetings (JCM) with his counterparts, in Paraguay he inaugurated the premises of the newly opened Indian Embassy which started functioning in January 2022. This was Jaishankar’s first visit to the South American region as External Affairs Minister.