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India’s ambitions for its naval power take a turn, as it enters talks with British engineering giant Rolls-Royce to power its upcoming Second Aircraft Carrier (IAC-II) with the MT30 marine gas turbine. This potential shift marks a significant departure from the American General Electric LM2500 engines used in the current INS Vikrant.

The MT30 boasts superior fuel efficiency compared to the LM2500, a crucial factor for extended operations at sea. However, this advantage comes at a price tag almost 1.5 times higher. Additionally, while IAC-II’s design will largely mirror Vikrant’s 45,000-ton displacement, the choice of engines signifies a strategic decision beyond immediate operational needs.

The MT30 holds the key to future-proofing India’s naval capabilities. Its “growth prospects” offer the potential to seamlessly integrate high-energy weapons into future destroyers and frigates. This adaptability positions India for advancements in naval warfare technology, where energy-intensive weaponry is poised to play a significant role.

Rolls-Royce’s entry into the picture extends beyond engine supply. The 2021 MoU between Rolls-Royce and Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL) underscores a commitment to establishing in-country servicing capabilities for the MT30. This not only strengthens India’s self-reliance in maintenance but also fosters closer technological collaboration with the British firm.

The final decision on IAC-II’s engine will be a crucial one, shaping India’s naval prowess for years to come. While the MT30’s fuel efficiency and future adaptability are enticing, the cost factor and potential geopolitical implications necessitate careful consideration. Regardless of the outcome, the ongoing talks signify India’s strategic intent to build a powerful and self-reliant navy, equipped for the challenges of the future.

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