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After an 18-month hiatus due to order shortfalls, GE Aerospace is roaring back with F404-GE-IN20 engine deliveries for India’s LCA-Tejas Mk1A program. Whispers also suggest an even bigger commitment: the Indian Air Force (IAF) mulls an additional 97 Mk1A jets, beyond the 83 already contracted.

This surge in demand has sparked a potential partnership between GE and India. Sources reveal plans to establish a GE Aerospace subsidiary in the country, specifically for maintaining these engines. The goal? Independent engine upkeep, separate from state-owned HAL’s F-414 engine manufacturing activities.

The envisioned model involves GE dealing directly with the IAF. They might appoint a local firm to handle warranty-related repairs and replacements, keeping skilled Indian manpower involved. Additionally, GE could oversee spare parts supply, potentially collaborating with local firms for “wearable” spare (regularly replaced parts) license manufacturing.

This collaboration holds significant benefits. Direct IAF-GE interaction streamlines communication and potentially expedites service. Local involvement fosters skills development and potentially reduces turnaround times. License manufacturing, if implemented, could contribute to India’s “Atmanirbhar Bharat” (self-reliant India) initiative. However, questions remain. How will the partnership structure work? Will technology transfer be involved? Can local firms meet quality and delivery standards?

Despite these unknowns, the Tejas program seems poised for an upswing. GE’s return and potential Indian partnership mark a significant step towards self-sufficiency and a boost for India’s indigenous fighter jet ambitions.

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