India Ready To ‘Modify’ LCA Tejas For Argentina; Looks To Bypass British Embargo On South American Nation

By Neeraj Rajput

India is ready to modify indigenous LCA Tejas fighter jets as per the demands of Argentina. The South American country has objections to the British ejection seat of LCA, which Indian aviation enterprise HAL has agreed to change with some other foreign seat, EurAsian Times has learnt. 

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The Argentine Defence Minister Jorge Enrique Taiana is in India these days for bilateral defense cooperation (17-20th July) and met with Indian counterpart Rajnath Singh on Tuesday too.

India’s Light Combat Aircraft (LCA) Tejas uses British company Martin Baker’s ejection seat for which Argentina has objected. “We are ready to modify LCA as per Argentine demands,” confirmed a top source associated with the production of Tejas in India.

“But then these modifications will have (extra) bearings on the price of LCA, which will be borne by Argentina,” added the source while speaking to EurAsian Times on the condition of anonymity.

Argentine Defence Minister Jorge Enrique Taiana is visiting India these days on a four-day tour (17-20th July) and is scheduled to be in Bengaluru on Thursday. He will visit Hindustan Aeronautics Ltd (HAL) facilities in Bengaluru which manufacture LCA fighter jets along with other indigenous helicopters for the Indian armed forces.

During the visit to HAL, a letter of intent for purchasing 20 Prachand (combat) helicopters is likely to be inked between India and Argentina, says the source. “LCA will have to wait for some time as Argentina has some specific demands while (Prachand) helicopters will have the precedence,” a HAL source told EurAsian Times.

During his meeting with Indian counterpart Rajnath Singh, Tiana discussed the ongoing defense cooperation initiatives, including measures to enhance defense industrial partnership.

After the bilateral meeting, Defence Minister Rajnath Singh tweeted, “Had insightful deliberations with the Defence Minister of Argentine Republic Mr. Jorge Enrique Taiana on boosting India-Argentina bilateral ties and further consolidating defense cooperation.”

The Indian Air Force Tejas performs at the opening ceremony of the Singapore Air Show on February 15, 2022.

“India-Argentina relations were elevated to the level of strategic partnership in 2019. An MoU on defense cooperation too has been in force since 2019 while both sides are engaged to conclude further instruments to deepen engagement,” said the Indian Ministry of Defence (MoD) in a statement after the meeting of two ministers on Tuesday.

Though passing through an economic crisis, Argentina is once again strengthening its armed forces 40 years after the fateful Falklands War. Though a champion in the world of football, the loss in the hands of the UK (United Kingdom) in the Falklands War (1982) has long haunted Argentina.

Argentina now wants to procure fighter jets and helicopters for the past couple of years, but the UK has been creating obstacles.

After the Falklands War, the UK put a blanket ban on selling weapons and military hardware to Argentina. It doesn’t even allow other countries to sell any military hardware having spare parts or radar or other avionics of British origin.

The UK has been able to persuade its allies like the US and South Korea not to sell their respective fighter jets to Argentina. This is why Argentina has been unable to procure even old F-16s from Denmark.

A Martin Baker MB Mk.7 ejection seat

Unable to procure military platforms from Western countries, Argentina has now started looking towards Asian giants like India and China. India for LCA Tejas and Prachand helicopters, while China (and Pakistan) for JF-17 aircraft.

In March this year, China announced that Argentina is ready to procure JF-17, which is co-developed and co-manufactured with Pakistan.

Last month, a team of HAL went to Buenos Aires and met the Argentina Air Force. During the conference, a model of LCA Tejas was kept in the middle of the roundtable.

During the conference, Argentina reportedly raised the question of the LCA ejection seat, which is from Martin Baker. This is why during the HAL visit, Indian functionaries are going to allay fears of Argentina.

“HAL is likely to replace Martin Baker seat with a Russian or some other friendly country,” a source added.

  • Neeraj Rajput is a Senior War-journalist with more than two decades of multimedia experience in defense, conflict, security, strategic affairs & geopolitics.
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