India and the UAE are planning to expand their joint military training with a focus on improving desert operations. Keeping this in mind, the UAE has shown a keen interest in Tejas, the light combat aircraft made by HAL, government officials said. The issues were discussed between defence minister Mrs Nirmala Sitharaman and the UAE’s minister of state for defence, Mr Mohammed Ahmed Al Bowardi Al Falacy. He is on an official visit to India and will return after visiting the facilities of defence PSUs, Hindustan Aeronautics Ltd (HAL) and Bharat Electronics Ltd (BEL). The UAE minister will be in Bangalore to visit the HAL facility, where he will be shown Tejas. “The UAE has shown interest in the Tejas,” said officials. Even Sri Lanka, Egypt and Singapore have evinced interest in the indigenous fighter jet. But HAL will first have to meet the demands of the IAF. It is trying to meet IAF’s demand for 123 Tejas. The IAF is also looking at inducting more than 200 Tejas Mark 2. However, the projects are heavily delayed. IAF chief, Air Chief Marshal BS Dhanoa, earlier this month pointed out that HAL has lagged behind in the deliveries of several frontline fighters such as Su-30s, Mirages and the LCA. The UAE minister will also visit the IAF’s Aircraft and Systems Testing Establishment, which flight tests aircraft, airborne systems and weapon stores prior to their induction. “During their meeting, both ministers discussed a range of defence cooperation issues and agreed on priority areas for cooperation,” read a statement issued by the defence ministry.
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