Leading French engine manufacturer Safran has said that it is ready to transfer the full technology for jet engines that can power next generation fighter jets and has initiated talks on the matter as it is committed to staying in India for the long term. The offer gains significance as India has embarked on an ambitious plan to develop an advanced multirole fighter jet, with the Air Force insisting that it should be powered with an indigenous engine and home developed weapon systems.
In his first remarks after taking over as Safran senior executive vice president, Alexandre Ziegler, who was the French Ambassador to India till last year, said exchanges have started between the two sides for a potential partnership for the next generation jets. “The development of an indigenous fighter jet engine is a key factor for strategic autonomy. If India chooses to cooperate with France in this field, we will be delighted and honoured to make our contribution. We are ready to propose a full transfer of technology and know-how. That is the strength of our partnership,” the senior executive told ET.
The French manufacturer is already a partner in major Indian space projects and helicopter engines, besides being a significant supplier of systems for the Rafale fighter jets ordered for the Air Force. “Our technologies make France one of the four countries in the world to master the complete development of a fighter jet engine. And if India needs us on this particularly strategic field, we will be there. Safran is definitely ready for a partnership with India, with the full support of the French government. Exchanges on this subject have already begun,” Ziegler said.
The comments come even as France has made fresh efforts to revive plans to develop the indigenous Kaveri jet engine as part of the Rafale offsets deal, with a briefing for the project made to Defence Minister Rajnath Singh during his visit to Paris in October.
As reported by ET, plans to revive the indigenous Kaveri project with the help of French technology stalled over differences in the pricing mechanism for the deal. The upgraded Kaveri engine is not being considered for the next batch of 83 LCAs to be made in India and the jets will be powered by engines supplied by US’ General Electric but the Indian Air Force has mandated that the next generation Advanced Medium Combat Aircraft (AMCA) has to operate on Indian engines after the first two squadrons.
Engines form a major part of the cost of fighter jets, with estimates showing that for a fleet of 200 LCAs in service, the cost of engines alone would be in excess of 25 billion euros over the lifecycle of the planes.
On its plans to utilise the offsets from the Rafale contract, Zeigler said Safram is committed to achieving the 50% offset clause with its Indian partners. “The Group’s purchases from Indian companies have grown considerably and now reach dozens of millions of euros each year. In addition, we have great ambitions in terms of Make in India and industrial investments in India, whether in production, like we are already doing in Bengaluru and Hyderabad, or in aeronautics MRO,” he said.