GE Aerospace is open to the transfer of technology to India for the indigenous manufacture of engines for light combat aircraft LCA Mark 2 by 2028 as it does not want to lose a big market.
Speaking to ANI, American Congressman Ro Khanna said, “Let’s make sure the GE Engines deal gets completed with India so we don’t lose out to Europe.” He stated that India and US need to be stronger in defence. He said that India wants jet engines and the first thing is to make sure that deal gets done before Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s visit to the US.
On the commercial side, Air India announced the biggest-ever purchase by an Indian airline of aircraft and jet engines, including 400 single-aisle and 70 twin-aisle planes powered by engines built by GE and CFM International, a 50-50 joint company between GE and Safran Aircraft Engines.
The blockbuster deal, ranking near the top of all deals worldwide, signalled the recovery of commercial aviation after years of Covid shutdown.
GE also announced agreements that deepen the company’s investment in India’s military. GE has been collaborating with Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL), the government’s aerospace and defence manufacturing firm.
In fact, the HAL continues to assemble the GE F404 family of engines that have powered each generation of the Tejas, the light combat aircraft (LCA) that evolved from that project.
“We need to be stronger on defence, and this is a key time. India realized that the Soviet military equipment doesn’t work as well. They realize the Soviet Union is moving towards China, and they have really been open to building a strong relationship with America,” Ro Khanna said.
“They want these jet engines, and the first thing is to make sure that deal gets done, hopefully before the Prime Minister’s visit. And many of us are working on that,” he added.
Speaking about Prime Minister Modi’s visit to the US, he said, “It’s going to be a historic trip.” He said that they are working to ensure that Prime Minister Narendra Modi gets to make an address at the US Congress. He further said, “The co-chairs will be requesting the speaker to issue that invitation.”
Aeroengine for AMCA & Tejas Mk2
Earlier in February, Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) chairman Samir Kamat said that GE-414 engines are going to be used in the LCA Mark2. He said that the discussions are ongoing regarding the GE and India is awaiting clearance by the US.
On the critical technology, Samir Kamat said, “The GE-414 engines are going to be used in the LCA Mark2. The discussions with GE are underway and they are keen on it. We are just awaiting clearance by the US government.”
Kamat also explained that the engines would be manufactured indigenously once the clearance comes through from the US government. He said that the matter was discussed during National Security Adviser Ajit Doval’s visit to the United States.
“The matter was discussed during our NSA (Ajit Doval’s) recent US visit. The US government said it was open to it (indigenous manufacture of engines). Hopefully, in the next 3-6 months, an announcement of the transfer of technology will happen and these engines would be made in the country itself,” he said.
Kamat added, “The DRDO is going to develop the first tripod-fired very short-range air defence system. Another one, a shoulder-fired version, has also been cleared for the Army.” In an exclusive interview with ANI, the DRDO chairman said that discussions are ongoing for the manufacture of engines for the Advanced Medium Combat Aircraft (AMCA) Mark 2 with three defence firms in three countries.
“The LCA Mark2 should be ready for induction by 2028. The first flight of the AMCA Phase 1 may take seven years and the induction can take 10 years from now. We cannot predict the timeline of the AMCA Mark 2 with a new engine until we sign an engine deal for co-development with another OEM (Original Equipment Manufacturer). We have been holding discussions with Safran France, GE from the US, and Rolls Royce from the UK,” the DRDO chief said.