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In 2010, India’s Aeronautical Development Agency (ADA) chose 99 F414 GE fighter jet engines to power the Mk II variant of the Tejas Light Combat Aircraft (LCA) for the Indian Air Force. The initial batch of F414-GE-INS6 engines was to be supplied by GE Aviation under the terms of the original agreement, with the remainder being produced in India through a technology transfer agreement.

At the time, the Indian Air Force was only interested in around 80 Mk II versions, which were to be built by re-engining the Tejas Mk1 airframe that was ready in 2014, with an All up weight (AUW) of 15 tons and an extended 500mm longer fuselage plug in its spine.

However, by 2017, a new Mk II version with an All-up weight of 16 tons had been proposed, and in 2019, a final configuration with an All-up weight of 17.5 tons was approved by the Indian Air Force and ADA.

The original deal had a limited level of technology transfer, with the Wet Section (after-burning module) being the only part of the engine to be assembled in India. The core section was to be assembled in a US facility before being shipped to India for final assembly.

However, with the order book now expanding from 80-odd jets to a commitment of 108, with an additional 60-70 to be purchased at a later stage, India is looking to acquire almost 200 F414-GE-INS6 engines, which is twice the original order. As a result, India has insisted on a broader technology transfer agreement that includes the Dry section (Hot Section). This was agreed upon by GE Aviation and is expected to be approved by the US administration soon.

India already has 16 F414-GE-INS6 engines, which were supplied by GE Aviation under the terms of the original contract and are intended for use on the Mk II prototype. Once the technology transfer is approved, India will negotiate a new contract with GE Aviation, taking into account inflation and technology transfer clauses. Meanwhile, the prototypes will use engines that have already been procured by HAL.

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