US offers to develop AMCA Jet Engine again with India

US offers to develop AMCA Jet Engine again with India

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US offers to develop AMCA Jet Engine again with India

The US has come back with its 2019 offer to jointly develop the AMCA jet engine with India shedding ‘export control’ concerns

An offer to cooperate with India on the development of jet engine technology which could be used to power the MK-2 variant of India’s futuristic Advanced Medium Combat Aircraft, has been revived by the USA.

This offer has been given probably to put a spoke between Indo French cooperation in jet engine development. However India may go ahead simultaneously with both France and USA. However the moment the USA even hints at any type of restrictions or control or denial, it should be shown the door. Meanwhile work on Kaveri should go on full blast.

Acco4dingly General Electric (GE) an American company, one of the world’s leading manufacturers of jet engines, has submitted a proposal for the co-development of a 110 kN thrust engine. Technologies developed for a derivative of GE’s F414 engine will be the baseline in this offer of cooperation.

“All technologies previously asked for by the government of India will be offered,” Kim announced. India had earlier sought the core engine or hot section technology for jet engines under the India-US Defence Trade and Technology Initiative (DTTI) but was turned down.

The US had cited export control rules of theirs in transferring this technology. A joint working group on jet engine technology under the DTTI framework was thereafter disbanded in October 2019 and Americans were told that India will not accept any control whatsoever.

So why this sudden offer from the Americans now ? A food for thought.

Now the US has realized that soon with the take-off stage in indigenous development and production of potentially hundreds of fighter jets over the next two decades, India will move ahead anyhow. It will be the USA which will lose the market.

“The defence relationship with India is strategically important for the US. Things have changed,” said Kim, while indicating that cutting-edge capability of GE’s Jack Welch Technology Centre at Bangalore could be leveraged for the AMCA jet engine program.

The US about-turn is a bid to retain its lead in powering India’s indigenous fighter jet program, a position it does not wish to lose to European engine makers. The TEJAS is powered by the GE-F404 engine, which has an 85kN thrust.

India’s Aeronautical Development Agency plans for the TEJAS MK-2, AMCA Fifth Generation and the Twin Engine Deck-Based Fighter are also closely woven around the 98kN thrust GE-F414 engine.

By the time the AMCA program matures to the MK-2 level, the ADA envisage switching from a GE-F414 to an indigenous engine with a higher 110kn thrust. It is for the development of that engine that India is seeking foreign collaboration.

The AMCA MK-2 production timelines is around 2035. Subsequent batches of the TEDBF will also be powered with the same indigenous engine.

GE is being considered along with Safran of France and Rolls Royce of the UK for collaboration on the AMCA engine. These bids are being energetically supported by their respective governments.

The options for a tie-up are open from among the three contenders. The Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) is the lead agency and a private Indian entity is also likely to be involved in the program.