The US has clearly stolen a march over the Europeans in the tussle for contracts the lucrative Indian defence market. The heart of Indian Tejas light combat aircraft (LCA), finally on its way to becoming operational after 27 long years, will be powered by an American GE engine rather than a Eurojet Turbo GmbH engine.
While initial contract will be for 99 engines for over $650 million, the option for 49 more engines could be exercised later. Eight engines will be bought off-the-shelf, while other 91 will be manufactured in India under transfer of technology.
GE Aviation pipped its European rival for the deal after the Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO), which is developing the LCA's mark II version, formally announced that the American major's was the lowest bid in the tenders that saw a long-drawn battle for over two years.
GE was declared as the lowest bidder by the price negotiating committee, headed by chief controller for aerospace systems Dr Prahlada.
"The price negotiating committee for the alternate engine for LCA Mk 2 has finalised the comparative statement of tenders ... after evaluation and acceptance of the technical offer provided by both Eurojet and GE Aviation, the commercial quotes were compared in detail and GE Aviation was declared as the lowest bidder," an official statement from DRDO said in New Delhi.
The committee also had representatives from the defence ministry, the Aeronautical Development Agency, DRDO, Hindustan Aeronautics Ltd, the Indian Air Force and the Indian Navy.