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India’s Light Combat Aircraft (LCA) Tejas Mk1A program is gearing up for further expansion. Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL) and the Indian Air Force (IAF) are moving forward with plans to procure 97 additional Tejas Mk1A fighter jets. This necessitates an increase in engine production by General Electric (GE).

Prior to finalizing the new order, HAL and GE officials will be meeting in Bangalore to address lingering issues from the previous engine contract. This includes delays experienced by the HAL in receiving the 99 F404-IN20 engines ordered in 2021 for the initial batch of 83 Tejas Mk1A jets. The delays were attributed to supply chain constraints and COVID-19 disruptions impacting GE’s global operations.

The F404-IN20 engine is a unique variant with the highest thrust output (84kN) among all F404 models. It features advancements like a higher-flow fan, FADEC (Full Authority Digital Electronic Control) system, and single-crystal turbine blades. Production for this specific variant had ceased due to a lack of orders until HAL resumed it.

Production of the F404-IN20 had previously slowed down due to a lack of orders. In fact, HAL’s last order before 2021 was for 24 units back in 2007. With the new Tejas order, GE is looking to ramp up production.

So far, HAL has received 75 engines, including older F404-F2J3 models used in initial prototypes. GE plans a gradual production increase to 20 F404-IN20 engines annually over the next two years. However, with HAL’s order for over 120 new engines, GE will be requested to further ramp up production to 24-30 units annually to meet India’s demand.

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