Argentina defence minister in India amid country’s interest in Tejas
Defence minister Rajnath Singh will hold talks with his Argentinian counterpart Jorge Enrique Taiana on Tuesday to discuss measures to bolster the bilateral defence relationship, amid the South American nation showing interest in acquiring the indigenous Tejas light combat aircraft.
Taiana, who arrived in New Delhi on Monday, is also slated to visit Bengaluru during his four-day visit to India. “The delegation-level meeting to be co-chaired by the two ministers on Tuesday will focus on further consolidating defence cooperation,” an official said.
Officials said Argentina now wants India to submit a formal proposal for its proposed acquisition of 16 Tejas fighters. Last month, Indian ambassador to Argentina Dinesh Bhatia, along with a delegation from Hindustan Aeronautics (HAL), had met Taiana as well as Argentine Air Force chief Brig General Xavier Isaac to showcase `Make in India’ defence production capabilities, especially the Tejas and Dhruv advanced light helicopters (ALHs).
The single-engine Tejas fighter, Dhruv choppers, BrahMos supersonic cruise missiles and Akash surface-to-air missile systems are among the major weapon systems that India is trying to export to friendly countries.
While a $375 million contract for three anti-ship coastal batteries of the 290-km-range BrahMos missiles was inked with the Philippines in January 2022, Malaysia earlier this year had selected the South Korean FA-50 fighter over the Tejas for a $920 million deal for importing 18 light attack aircraft after a long-drawn process.
India’s export of arms and defence technologies reached an all-time high of Rs 16,000 crore in the 2022-23 financial year. But much more work will be required if the ambitious target set by the government of achieving a domestic turnover of Rs 1,75,000 crore in the defence and aerospace sector, including exports of Rs 35,000 crore, has to be met by 2024-25.
The Times of India