Source : Swarajya
India’s search for a partner to co-develop a powerful jet engine for its next generation combat fighter has led to a competition between the UK and the US, as discussions with France have remained stalled for seven years.
The engine, which would provide at least 110 kilonewton of thrust and be used for future projects like the fifth-generation Advanced Medium Combat Aircraft and a twin-engine deck-based fighter, is crucial for India’s self-reliance in defense.
The technology to develop indigenous fighter jet engine is available in only a handful of countries worldwide.
The UK has made a strong bid for collaboration, offering to co-develop a brand-new engine with full intellectual property credited to India under a government-to-government umbrella.
An assessment that involved engineers from India and the UK has concluded that the entire process to develop and certify a new military engine would take close to eight years.
The UK’s offer is to develop an engine that India can produce and even export without any hindrances.
“What the UK is committed to is the biggest ever capability transfer in history. This means ensuring that the engine that is co-created would be to Indian specifications and if India wants to export it, that would be a matter entirely for India to decide,” UK minister for defence procurement Alex Chalk was quoted by the Economic Times as saying.
Meanwhile, the US is also in the running, with discussions centered on leveraging its successful partnership with India for the jet engine used in LCA Tejas.
American engines have been selected for a Mk2 version of the LCA Tejas as well as the initial batch of advanced medium combat aircraft, and the US has committed to producing these engines in India, though the quantum of technology transfer has not been decided.
The American engine being supplied is rated at 98 kN of power, with discussions underway to move towards the 110 kN requirement.
Research and development efforts towards creating a new engine from scratch to Indian military specifications is expected to cost over $2 billion, making the competition between the UK and the US particularly intense.