Indian Tejas & Korean FA-50 clash again, but this time in Egypt

India’s Hindustan Aeronautics Ltd (HAL) has offered Tejas Mk1A light fighter aircraft to Egypt, but its efforts are facing a strong challenge from Korea Aerospace Industries (KAI) which is targeting FA-50 Block 20 aircraft for the Egyptian contract. In addition to HAL and KAI, companies from Italy and China also showed interest.

Several international fighter aircraft manufacturers are trying hard to “win” the heart of Egypt, which has a need for 100 light combat/advanced training (FLIT/LCA) aircraft to replace its FLIT/LCA aircraft that have been aged.

The Arab country is expected to announce the winner of the contract next year.

The contract for 100 Egyptian FLIT/LCA aircraft is considered lucrative because it is the second largest contract in the market at the moment for the aircraft involved, behind the United States which has a requirement for 250 light fighter/advanced training aircraft.

One of the companies that have already expressed interest in meeting Egypt’s needs is Hindustan Aeronautics Ltd (HAL) from India, which offered the Tejas Mk1A light fighter aircraft to the Arab country.

HAL wants to find the first Tejas export market.

The HAL company not only offered the Tejas to Egypt but has acted to make its offer more attractive with a proposal to create a production and manufacturing facility for the aircraft in the Arab country. Not only the Tejas aircraft, but HAL as the Egyptian media said, also offers production facilities for helicopters.

In addition to the Tejas, New Delhi also offers helicopters produced by its defense industry such as the Advanced Light Helicopter (ALH) and Light Combat Helicopter (LCH) to Egypt.

Arab media also stated that discussions were held between the two countries.

The Chief of the Egyptian Air Force is also rumored to be in India soon to take a closer look at the Tejas aircraft production and manufacturing facilities.

The Arab country, which can be likened to “shopping” for weapons systems from warships to fighter jets, is emphasizing local production and technology transfer in any negotiations to purchase weapons from abroad.

However, with the “failure” faced by the Tejas aircraft in Australia, the Philippines, the United States, and the United Arab Emirates (UAE), HAL is indeed faced with the difficult task to win the contract in Egypt.

This is coupled with the presence of other competitors consisting of FLIT/LCA aircraft such as the FA-50 from South Korea, the L-15 from China, and the M-346 from Leonardo.

If the KAI’s T-50 emerges a winner, Egypt would be the fisth country after Indonesia, Thailand, Poland and Columbia to purchase the South Korean trainer jet.

The promotion of the T-50 in Egypt comes after Poland signed a deal to purchase 48 FA-50 jets from Korea in July. In recent years South Korea has been making concerted efforts to export the FA-50 to various countries.

After successfully selling 48  FA-50 aircraft to Poland a few weeks ago, Korea Aerospace Industries (KAI) is now targeting Egypt as a customer for FLIT/LCA aircraft. The South Korean aircraft maker is said to be offering FA-50 Block 20 aircraft to Egypt, the same variant of the aircraft offered to Poland.

It is not known what combination of light fighters and advanced training aircraft the Arab country wants.

KAI believes that the FA-50 aircraft has a higher chance of being selected by the Egyptian Air Force due to its similarity to the F-16 aircraft used by the North African country.

The Egyptian Air Force is one of the world’s largest users of F-16 aircraft with 160 aircraft and the logistical similarity between the two aircraft (F-16 and FA-50) is expected to facilitate the selection of KAI by the Cairo administration.

A senior KAI official, Lee Bong-geun, said the South Korean company offered joint production and joint marketing efforts if Egypt chose the FA-50 aircraft developed by them.

The DNA and technology of the United States on the FA-50/T-50 aircraft is very “thick” following the close collaboration between KAI and Lockheed Martin (the same company behind the F-16) in the development of the light fighter aircraft.

Egypt is said to be looking to replace its aging fighters/trainers including the Alpha Jet, Mirage 5E as well as Mirage 2000.

The Black Eagles aerobatic team from the South Korean Air Force using T-50B aircraft also performed at the Pyramid Air Show 2022 which took place in Cairo recently.

The participation of the aerobatic team is one of the marketing efforts by the South Korean company to draw Egypt’s attention to the capabilities of the FA-50 aircraft, something that Indian Tejas shows its capabilities during LIMA, Malaysia.

In addition to HAL and KAI, China also offered the FLIT/LCA “L-15” aircraft to Egypt.

The competition from L-15 Hongdu cannot be taken lightly by KAI and Tejas because earlier this year it managed to surprise by winning the hearts of the UAE government to buy 12 FLIT/LCA aircraft.

The UAE will add the aircraft handle to 48  L-15s in the next few years. The UAE is expected to buy the  FLIT/LCA aircraft from the  China National Aero-Technology Import and Export Corporation (CATIC).

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