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India’s quest for self-reliance in advanced aerial warfare takes a major step forward with the Defense Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) and French aerospace giant Safran engaged in crucial talks regarding the engine for the nation’s fifth-generation fighter jet, the Advanced Medium Combat Aircraft (AMCA).

Safran’s offer of 100% Transfer of Technology (ToT) marks a significant shift in India’s defense partnerships. This implies complete access to the engine’s blueprints and manufacturing know-how, fostering crucial domestic capabilities. Further sweetening the deal, India will actively participate in the engine’s core design and metallurgy, gaining invaluable experience in cutting-edge aeronautical engineering.

The engine’s planned 110kN thrust, with a 20% scalability margin, ensures adaptability to changing requirements. This future-proof design allows for a potential upgrade to a 132kN class variant, offering a significant power boost for potential advanced variants of the AMCA or even future sixth-generation fighters.

While the engine will not be an Adaptive Cycle Engine (ACE), the current focus is on a more realistic and readily deployable solution. ACE technology, offering optimal efficiency across subsonic, transonic, and supersonic flight regimes, remains a few years away from practical implementation.

The estimated $5 billion program cost covers not just engine development but also establishing a local manufacturing line and supply chain. This ensures complete control over the technology within India’s borders. The engine will initially power the AMCA MkII and MKI (through engine swap), with potential applications later extending to the Tejas MkII and TEDBF programs.

India’s ambitions extend beyond the AMCA. An upscaled variant of the engine is envisioned for the sixth-generation fighter program, while a 75kN class DRY variant and a high-bypass turbofan version are planned for transport and civilian aircraft applications.

This collaboration marks a critical milestone in India’s journey towards self-sufficiency in high-performance jet engine technology. The ToT, design participation, and indigenous manufacturing establish a strong foundation for future advancements. With an eye on both immediate and long-term needs, this partnership positions India as a major player in the global aerospace landscape.

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