With GE expected to announce tie-up with the DRDO in a couple of months, the indigenously produced Light Combat Aircraft Mark-2 should be ready for induction by 2028, DRDO chairman Dr Samir V Kamat said on Tuesday.
Defence Minister Rajnath Singh on the opening day of Aero India 2023 stated that India is getting ready for domestic production of engine for the LCA Mk-2. Singh’s announcement stamped National Security Advisor Ajit Doval closing up more than a decade long pending negotiations with the US Administration on joint production of F414 fighter get engines to power Tejas LCA Mk-2. Long back in October 2010, the DRDO and GE had agreed for the F414-GE-INS6 engines for the LCA but the negotiations were never completed due to various reasons till Doval-led delegation, which included DRDO chairman Dr Samir V Kamat, giving it a shape during the recent visit to the United States.
It is learnt that of the total 100 GE engines, some of them will be imported by DRDO’s Aeronautical Development Agency (ADA) and the rest will be manufactured here for the LCA Mk-2s which the Indian Air Force (IAF) and Indian Navy are set to acquire.
At the Aero India show, DRDO chairman Dr Samir V Kamat said they are awaiting US government’s clearance for the GE to start co-production of engines to be used in the LCA Mk-2s. “In visit of our NSA to the US, this was discussed. Hopefully, in next 3-6 months, announcement of GE 414 manufacturing will happen and these engines will get made in the country,” Dr Kamat stated. Speaking on the timelines for roll-out of the aircraft from the factory, the DRDO chairman said, “I would say that LCA Mk-2 should start getting ready by 2028 for induction”. According to the GE, the F414-GE-INS6 is the highest-thrust F414 model which includes state-of-the-art technology needed for the Tejas.
Engines for AMCA
DRDO is also in talks with leading global manufacturers for a tie-up for indigenous production of another large size engine to power fifth generation stealth twin-engine Advanced Medium Combat Aircraft (AMCA). Sharing an update on that, Dr Kamat stated the DRDO is in talks with Safran from France, GE from the US and the Rolls-Royce from the UK for the AMCA phase 2. He also elaborated that “AMCA phase 1 with GE F414 engines should start flying in about 10 yrs - the first flight will happen in about 7 years, but the induction may take 10 years”.
Which type of engine a single-seat AMCA phase 2 will have is still wide open as Dr Kamat stated that “unless we sign an engine deal for co-development with another OEM (Original Equipment Manufacturer), I will not be able to give you a date. So, it’s dependent on whom we go with the engine”. The IAF is also looking at the AMCA to augment its fleet down to 30 fighter squadrons due to aegeing Mig-21s, Mig-29s and Jaguars. It has also signed a contract for 83 LCA Mark-1As.