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India’s ambitious plans for its 5th generation Advanced Medium Combat Aircraft (AMCA) program take a significant step forward with the hunt for an engine development partner. Sources close to the program reveal that the Defence Research and Development Organization’s Gas Turbine Research Establishment (GTRE) is actively courting foreign collaboration.

GTRE aims to finalize a partner by mid-2024, paving the way for a contract later this year or early next year. This partnership is vital for developing a new 5th generation engine capable of generating 110-130kN thrust, a significant upgrade for the AMCA MkII variant.

Leading engine manufacturers Rolls-Royce, Safran, and GE are all contenders in this co-development project. The chosen engine will propel the AMCA MkII, scheduled for production after 2035. The initial AMCA prototype and the first 40 AMCA MkI units will rely on the established GE-F414 engine. This proven powerplant offers a reliable solution for the initial stages of the project.

Industry sources suggest that the co-developed engine will serve multiple purposes. It is expected to propel the Indian Navy’s TEDBF program (carrier-based fighter jet) and potentially find its way into the upgraded Tejas MkII jets during their Mid-Life Upgrade (MLU) in the mid-2040s.

The initial AMCA prototype will utilize the existing GE-F414 engines. This engine will also power the initial 40 units of the AMCA MkI variant before the more powerful indigenous co-developed engine takes over for subsequent production batches.

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