New ‘Made in India’ engines to power IAF’s AMCA, Tejas fighter jets

07 Dec 2021


India’s federal government made a slew of announcements in Parliament that are likely to usher in a new era in indigenous defense manufacturing.

A new engine, developed locally with international assistance will power India’s indigenous fighter jets that are now under production, minister of state for defence Ajay Bhat informed Parliament on 29 November.
The new `Make in India’ programme will be in addition to existing indigenous `Kaveri engine project that was commissioned 30 years ago and is now in the trial stage, say reports.
It is likely that India’s state-run aircraft maker Hindustan Aeronautics Ltd (HAL) will team up with General Electric of the US or Rolls-Royce of UK for local production of engines for the Tejas as well as the Advanced Medium Combat Aircraft (AMCA).    
The Tejas Light Combat Aircraft (LCA) is currently powered by an imported engine as the indigenously developed `Kaveri’ engine is not producing he required thrust to power high performance aircraft.
“The Flight Operational Clearance (FOC) configuration of the LCA Tejas requires more thrust than the proposed domestic engine can provide. As a result, the Kaveri cannot be integrated into the current architecture. A modified engine version is necessary to induct with LCA Tejas,” Ajay Bhatt informed the Rajya Sabha in a written reply on 29 November.
Although the indigenous Kaveri engine was tested for a total of 3,217 hours, and it also passed altitude tests and trials on the Flying Test Bed (FTB), the engine’s thrust was only about 65 Kilo Newtons (KN), far less than the 95 KN produced by its main competitors, the Eurojet EJ200 and the General Electric GE-F414.
The Kaveri engine project was approved by the Cabinet Committee on Security (CCS) in 1989. Under the project, which cost Rs2035.56 crore nine full prototype engines and four core engines were produced over a period of 30 years.
As of now, the GE-F404 engines power the LCA FOC version and the Mk-1A, while the other Tejas variant LCA-Mk2 and the AMCA will be powered by the more powerful GE-F414 engines in the future.
HAL has already sealed a $716 million deal with GE Aviation of the United States for 99 F404 aircraft engines and related services to power the indigenous Tejas LCA Mk-1A.
The purchase agreement provides for collaboration in local production of GE F414 engines for the forthcoming LCA Mk-2 programme, HAL had stated then.
It is likely that India will pick up either GE Aviation or Rolls-Royce to help produce engines for LCA and AMCA domestically. This will also give a fillip to the government’s ‘Make in India’ and ‘Atmanirbhar Bharat’ initiatives.
India has been trying to further indigenise defence production through domestic innovation and collaboration with foreign partners.

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