New Delhi: Collaborating with France on manufacturing an engine for India’s fifth-generation fighter jet and working on its design and development is the subject of ongoing discussions between the two countries, Indian envoy to France Jawed Ashraf has said. The new engine is meant to power the Advanced Medium Combat Aircraft (AMCA), which is being developed.
Discussions are in progress between Safran and the Defence Research and Development Organisation’s Aeronautical Development Agency and Gas Turbine Research Establishment on arriving at a set of specifications that complies with the country’s future fighter jet requirements, the envoy said at a press conference.
The subject always features in conversations between French President Emmanuel Macron and Prime Minister Narendra Modi, he added. The decision to jointly develop the aero engine was announced during Mr. Modi’s visit to France in July 2023.
“What we are looking for is not just a transfer of manufacturing technology, which essentially keeps you going with the same crutches that you have been on for the last six decades, but to work in the actual design phase, metallurgical aspects, etc. So, Safran [French multinational firm that works in the aerospace and defence sectors] is fully willing to do it with 100% transfer of technology in design, development, certification, production, so on and so forth,” Mr. Ashraf said.
Meanwhile, the deal with General Electric (GE) is for the manufacturing licence of the already-operational F-414 engine, which is set to be manufactured in India by Hindustan Aeronautics Limited. The U.S. government has given all approvals for the deal and it is now for the two companies to finalise the commercial agreements, officials said.
The deal will give India access to several technologies and industrial processes involved in the manufacture of jet engines and increase the capabilities of both public and private industries in India.
The F-414 engines are meant to power the indigenous Light Combat Aircraft (LCA) TEJAS MK-2, a larger and more capable variant of the LCA currently in service, and the initial version of the AMCA.
The development of the AMCA is planned in two phases: MK-1 with the F-414 engine, and Mk2 with a more powerful engine in collaboration with France.
Very few countries have a proprietary right to jet engine technology and it is a closely-guarded secret due to its extreme criticality in modern warfare. India made unsuccessful attempts in the past to develop an engine locally under the now-shelved Kaveri project, which was sanctioned by the Cabinet Committee on Security (CCS) in 1989.