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Emmanuel Macron’s upcoming Republic Day visit to India promises to be a landmark event, not just for bilateral relations but also for the nation’s ambitious fighter jet program. Unconfirmed reports suggest that India will announce French aerospace giant Safran Aerospace as its engine partner for the crucial 6th-generation engine development for the Advanced Medium Combat Aircraft (AMCA) program.

This marks a significant step beyond the current Rafale partnership, with India aiming to achieve self-reliance in a critical domain. The collaboration with Safran, known for its cutting-edge engine technology, signifies a major leap forward in India’s quest for “Make in India” in the defense sector.

Crucially, the joint venture wouldn’t involve simply adapting existing engines like the M-88 powering Rafales. Instead, DRDO’s Gas Turbine Research Establishment (GTRE) and Safran will collaborate on a brand new 110kN-130kN thrust class engine built from the ground up. This new core promises to be a true 6th-generation powerhouse, propelling not just the AMCA but also potentially powering a future, even more advanced fighter jet with a projected 40-year production run.

The new engine’s versatility extends beyond the AMCA program. India also plans to replace the American F-414 engines on its Tejas MkII and TEDBF fighter jets after their usual 10-year service window. This opens up another potential avenue for the Indo-French engine, further solidifying the partnership and ensuring a steady demand for the technology.

The Safran deal, if confirmed, carries immense strategic significance. It reduces India’s dependence on foreign engine imports, bolstering its defense autonomy. Additionally, it strengthens the Indo-French strategic partnership, fostering technological exchange and cooperation.

While official confirmation awaits Macron’s visit, the prospect of a joint Indo-French 6th-generation engine is a thrilling development. It signifies India’s unwavering commitment to achieving self-reliance in advanced military technology and positions the nation as a future leader in aerospace innovation. With Safran onboard, India’s fighter jets are poised to soar to new heights, both literally and figuratively.

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