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HAL planning to set up logistics bases in Malaysia, Vietnam, Indonesia and Sri Lanka

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NEW DELHI (PTI): State-run aerospace behemoth Hindustan Aeronautics Ltd (HAL) is looking at setting up logistics bases in Malaysia, Vietnam, Indonesia and Sri Lanka as part of initiatives to woo the countries to buy India's light combat aircraft Tejas and military helicopters.

Chairman and Managing Director of HAL R Madhavan said the HAL is considering to build logistics bases in the four countries as they use a number of Russian-origin military aircraft and choppers whose serviceability is "very poor".

He said the HAL is now seriously focusing on boosting exports in sync with the government's priority and identified South East Asia, West Asia and North Africa to sell key platforms like Tejas, attack helicopter Rudra and advanced light helicopter Dhruv.

Last month, Prime Minister Narendra Modi has set an ambitious defence export target of USD 5 billion dollars in the next five years and asked all the key military manufacturers to work hard to achieve the target.

"We are looking at setting up maintenance facilities in Malaysia, Vietnam, Indonesia, Sri Lanka. We can give them a lot of support to as these countries use lot of platforms which are common to India, and their serviceability is very poor," he told PTI.

The HAL top executive said the company is looking at setting up maintenance facilities in these four countries as having logistics bases is key to sell the products and ensure after-sales services.

Without divulging details, Madhavan said a number of countries in West Asia are also in touch with the HAL for possible procurement of its key products.

"We now are looking at exports very seriously. A sizeable number of countries are showing lots of interests in the platforms we are producing as they are world class. We are in talks with so many countries," said the HAL chief.

Specifically, he said that Tejas has a "very good" export potential as it is a four-and-half generation fighter jet which can compete with some of the famous military jets in its class.

The Tejas has been Developed by Aeronautical Development Agency and the HAL. The lifespan of the jet would be a minimum of 30 years just like any other frontline combat aircraft.

The combat jets are classified under various generations depending on their avionics, capability and weapons systems. The current fleet of fighter jets with the IAF range from three-and-half generation to the fourth generation.

The Indian Air Force has already placed an order for 40 Tejas and is likely to seal a contract "very soon" with HAL for another 83 aircraft at a cost of around Rs 38,000 crore.

India is one of the largest importers of arms and military platforms globally. The government has been focusing significantly on promoting defence indigenisation by taking a slew of reform initiatives including liberalising FDI in defence sector.

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