As per defense reports, The Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL) that manufactures Tejas- aircraft in the country is getting a lot of inquiries for the Trainer variant of the jet and after the price was revealed to be 284 crores, which is just under $40 million per unit for the aircraft.
Three countries Egypt, Malaysia, and Singapore have shown interest in procurement of the trainer jet to be used for the Advance level of Pilot training program in their respected air force.
Malaysia already has evaluated Tejas-Trainer jets a few years back and had shown interest in the jet to be used in the training and combat roles, Air force officials were keen on Tejas over JF-17 that was offered by China and Pakistan due to Tejas been equipped with an American engine, which the local crew preferred and were all familiar with.
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However a deal was not able to go through due to the financial woes of the country and even though India had agreed for the balance of payment to be taken in the Palm oil trade.
Republic of Singapore Air Force (RSAF) has Joint Training arrangements with India to use its facilities for training of its Pilots in India and a few years back, the defense minister of Singapore also had flown in the Tejas trainer for demonstration purposes and seemed impressed by the performance of the jet.
RSAF is looking for an advanced trainer that can be used to train Pilots for largely American made fighter jets like F-35, F-16, and F-15, and the use of American engines in Tejas trainer has come as a bonus for the aircraft but it is facing some high-level competition from Boeing that is keen to sell its T-7A Red Hawk.
Egyptian Air Force (EAF) is looking at replacing its aging Dassault/Dornier Alpha Jet that it had procured in the ’80s and is nearing its service life. EAF wants a full combat aircraft that can be occasionally be also used for advanced levels of training pilots. EAF has recently procured Sukhoi-35 and Dassault Rafale and also operates F-16, Mirage-2000, and Mirage-III fleet.
HAL is developing a lead-in-fighter trainer (LIFT) built on the Light Combat Aircraft Twin-seater Trainer platform to be used training pilots after the Advanced Jet Training stage and before induction of pilots into a frontline fighter squadron.
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LCA-LIFT can be configured to mimic aircraft which the Pilots will be flying at the Squadron levels that will aid in its training program and can be used for combat roles also that EAF seems to be keen on.
Indian Air Force (IAF) has contracted with HAL to procurer 18 Tejas Trainer jets and is also keen to procure 30+ LCA-LIFT that can be used beyond its Stage-III Pilot Program where BAe Hawk 132 AJTs are used.