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A partnership to revolutionize fighter jet engines for IAF

This MOU signifies a crucial milestone as it outlines plans for the joint production of fighter jet engines dedicated to serving the Indian Air Force. The press release from GE emphasizes the importance of this collaboration in expanding defence cooperation between India and the United States. Girish Linganna reports

GE Aerospace partners with HAL to revolutionize fighter jet engines for IAF
First Published Jun 23, 2023, 6:36 PM IST

General Electric (GE) Aerospace has signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with state-owned aircraft maker Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL) to manufacture fighter jet engines for the Indian Air Force. In the midst of Prime Minister Narendra Modi's official state visit to the United States, this is an important milestone and a critical aspect in expanding defence collaboration between the two countries, according to a release from GE.

GE Aviation is a provider of jet and turboprop engines, components, and integrated systems for commercial, military, business, and general aviation aircraft. GE Aviation is a branch of GE, which is a Fortune 100 company. These products and services are backed by a global service network that is made available by GE Aviation. 

The arrangement may involve the joint manufacture of GE Aerospace's F414 engines in India, and GE Aerospace is continuing to work with the government of the United States to get the necessary export authorization. This initiative is being carried on by the Indian Air Force as a part of their Light Combat Aircraft Mk2 programme.

The Tejas Mark II fighter is scheduled to go into production in 2027 or 2028. Aeronautical Development Agency (ADA) is planning to produce the GE-414-powered prototype by the end of 2024. Subject to the permission of the United States Congress, the GE-414 engine will be produced in India as part of an agreement that calls for a hundred per cent transfer of technology (TOT).

This historic agreement was made possible by GE's longstanding partnership with India and HAL, said H. Lawrence Culp, Jr., Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of GE and Chief Executive Officer of GE Aerospace. "GE is pleased to contribute to the advancement of President Biden and Prime Minister Modi's vision for closer coordination between the two nations," he said. 

He added that GE's unrivalled F414 engines would provide significant economic and national security benefits for both nations as the company assists its customers in producing the highest quality engines for their military fleets.

The earlier commitment made by GE Aerospace to produce 99 engines for the LCA Mk2 programme of the Indian Air Force is moved forward as a result of this agreement. It puts the company in a strong position to establish a family of products in India, including the F404 engine that currently powers the LCA Mk1 and LCA Mk 1A aircraft, as well as the F414-INS6 engine that will be used for the prototype development, testing, and certification of the AMCA programme. Additionally, GE has committed to continuing its collaboration with the Indian government on the AMCA Mk2 engine initiative. GE-414 will also power the HAL Twin Engine Deck-Based Fighter (TEDBF).

Over the course of the past four decades, GE Aerospace has been active in the Indian market, participating in a vast array of industry sectors. These sectors include engines, avionics, services, engineering, manufacturing, and local procurement. As a result of the latest announcement, the volume of work performed at a number of sites in the United States that now support work on the F414 engine will rise, and there is also the prospect that additional work could be performed in India.

In 1986, GE started working with ADA and HAL to support the production of F404 engines for the LCA. The engine was secured by Former Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi when he visited the US in 1984. These engines are still in use today. Following that, GE Aerospace's F404 and F414 have been involved in the development and production programmes for the LCA Mk1 and LCA Mk2 aircraft, respectively. A total of 75 F404 engines have been supplied for the LCA Mk1A, and an additional 99 are on order to be delivered. As part of the ongoing LCA Mk2 development plan, eight F414 engines were installed in the aircraft.

The release said the F414 continues to surpass its reliability and time on-wing objectives, despite having logged more than five million flying hours and having eight nations either operating or placing orders for F414-powered aircraft. To this day, almost 1,600 F414 engines have been put into service all around the world. 

Examples of GE's involvement in India include the John F Welch Technology Centre in Bengaluru, which first opened its doors in the year 2000, and the Multi-modal Factory in Pune, which first opened its doors in the year 2015.

On October 1, 2010, GE made the announcement that the Indian Air Force had chosen 99 F414 GE fighter jet engines as the propulsion system for the Mk II iteration of the LCA Tejas. The F414-GE-INS6 is the model of the F414 family that has the highest thrust and combines the most cutting-edge technology in order to fulfil the demanding specifications of India's air and naval forces. 

Full Authority Digital Electronic Control (FADEC) and new single-engine safety features are among the technological breakthroughs, as stated in the announcement. According to the release, this choice came after the procurement of 24 F404 GE engines in 2007 and 17 F404 engines in 2004 to power a limited number of operational production aircraft and naval prototypes.

PM Modi's US Visit: Landmark GE-414 jet engine deal awaits in Washington

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