India’s plan to co-develop a new 110kN Thrust Class engines for its AMCA Stealth fighter jet program is moving ahead with British Aerospace engine manufacture Rolls Royce, has both companies are now moving closer to completion of the first technical feasibility studies for the program after establishing basic understanding and requirement set for the joint development of the program.

India will be fully funding the program and the financial cost report submitted by Rolls Royce could see India investing approx. $3-4 Billion in the development of the new engine and other facilities that include the integration of some of the engine technology that already has been developed by the DRDO locally. An informed source close to has confirmed that several industrial partners for the program already have been identified and the efforts are to see that engine has no imported parts or subsystems when it enters production.

Intellectual property (IP)

Intellectual property rights of the jet will remain with India and Rolls Royce has also agreed to transfer its IP rights to India, in whatever engine technology that it will be in charge to develop. Rolls Royce has agreed to be a partner in the engine development agreement that is quite common in the Indian Auto-sector where the development of an engine is fully funded by the company while foreign technical consortium in charge of the design and development of the engine holds no Intellectual property rights over it since it is fully funded by the auto company.

Clean Slate Design

Rolls Royce and DRDO will be co-developing a new engine that will be a clean slate design and not based on any existing engine so that Intellectual property rights issues don’t emerge. the engine will use some of the technologies already developed for the Kaveri engine program like its new fan section and FADEC system, but it will have a new core section.

Growth Potential

The proposed core section of the engine will have growth potential of 20% in increased thrust generation with minor changes in the core section that is done to make it future-proof. DRDO also plans to develop a variant of the engine that be used for single-engine fighter jets in the future. DRDO has plans to swap F414 engines in Tejas Mk2 with locally made engines from 2040 onwards when their due for new engines.

R&D and Testing in India

The engine will be developed in India with active assistance from a team of engineers from Rolls Royce and in the UK facility but the majority of the testing will be done at the upcoming engine complex that DRDO is developing. The engine will be tested completely in India for which India might be also procuring a flying Test-Bed platform that could be a commercial airline jet for flight test purposes. One of the Prototypes of AMCA will be paired with one existing F414 engine to become Testbed aircraft for the new engine in later stages. Plans are to have an Flying Prototype engine by 2029 and conclude all flying tests in next three years.

Moving away from French and American offers

French offer for co-development of the new engine based on its Snecma M88-4 could have come at a cost to India over $6 Billion, as per informed sources which were deemed too high by Indian negotiators. Since many past negotiations with French have failed to get desired results, it was decided that French collaboration will be limited only to the development of the Dry Kaveri engine variant that can develop a 46kN class of Thrust.

American offer on co-development of new engine ran out of gas a long time back after General Electric refused to part way with any Proprietary core technology to India and offered only local licensing agreements. US administration did try to get another local aerospace engine manufacturer Pratt & Whitney come aboard, but the company wanted direct negotiations with the Indian Government and was also not too keen on the transfer of Intellectual property rights.

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