🦾 Major tech transfer expected
News of an especially noteworthy US-India deal pertains to the production of General Electric (GE) F414 jet engines in India by HAL.
The US government has reportedly granted approval to transfer critical technologies for the GE F414 engine to India.
PM Narendra Modi is on a four-day state visit to the US, from 21 to 24 June, during which time several significant deals may be inked.
India needs a foreign jet engine... now. The indigenous Kaveri jet engine project that began in 1986 didn't make sufficient progress.
Despite India's efforts, progress has been slow and has not resulted in a fully operational engine.
This has prompted India to seek foreign engines to meet the immediate requirements of its fighter jet programmes.
India especially needs to ensure it maintains strategic parity in the region. So, it requires jet engines that can match or exceed China's advancements.
A high-thrust engine, in particular, is needed for India's fighter jet programmes, such as the Tejas Mk2 and the Advanced Medium Combat Aircraft (AMCA).
Foreign engines like the GE F414 offer the necessary thrust levels to meet these requirements.
Good for Tejas Mk2? The Tejas Mk2 is a heavier fighter jet than the LCA Tejas Mk-1.
This allows Tejas Mk2 to carry additional payload of more than 6 tonnes, compared to 3.5 tonnes for the LCA.
It also has twice the endurance of two hours, compared to 57 minutes for the LCA.
The increased payload and advanced electronic systems of the Tejas Mk2 demand a higher level of thrust and electrical power.
To fulfill these requirements, the GE F414 engine, with its maximum thrust of 98 kN, is well-suited for the Tejas Mk2.
The Kaveri engine programme suffered from various technical difficulties and significant delays.
The engine was unable to produce sufficient thrust, suffered poor performance at high altitudes, and had excessive weight.
Moreover, it was only able to produce 78 kN wet thrust in its afterburner mode and for a short period of time, and 47-51 kN of dry thrust, which was much lower than the targeted 81 kN.
The lack of testing facilities in India and inadequate funding severely hampered the programme.
All this led to the Government of India shutting down the programme.
Attempts at the revival of the programme with the help of French engine-maker Snecma failed.
How much tech transfer to India? The agreement between GE and HAL will involve an impressive 80 per cent transfer of jet engine technology by value, as per the Indian Express.
India will get eleven "major manufacturing technologies" that were until now unavailable in India.
Most of these technologies are so advanced that the US had not even shared them with its treaty allies like the UK, France, and Australia.
Do note that a report in the Hindustan Times claims that the deal actually involves 100 per cent transfer of technology, although this remains unconfirmed.
Bottom line: With the transfer of these high-end technologies, India would aim to design and develop its own jet engines in the future.
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