After French multinational aircraft engine company, Safran asked India to invest close to 6000 Crores and committed to investing 3000 crores of its investment as part of Rafale offset obligations to revive India’s now stalled Kaveri engine program, DRDO is now considering having talks with Britain’s engineering major Rolls Royce after French offer was considered too pricey by DRDO.

DRDO already has invested over 3000 crores in the Kaveri engine program but an additional investment for 6000 crores only to get core section of M-88-3 engines which included custom modification of the new Kaveri engine with Indian developed technology, and later certification of the modified engine along with technology transfer could have meant that SAFRAN enjoyed Royalty for its tech for decades to come.

DRDO officials informed that at least for Tejas Mk1A and MWF-Mk2 fighter jet program they are sticking with American GE developed F404-IN20 (84 kN) and F414-GE-INS6 (98 kN) turbofan engines and Even for Naval Mk2 program, GE’s F414-GE-INS6 turbofan engines are preferred but the problem with GE has being is that these engines are brought off the shelf and has no option of even local license assembly let alone any Transfer of Technology of Key core technology.

Prototypes of India’s 5th Generation AMCA Stealth fighter jets will use GE’s F414-GE-INS6 turbofan engines in the initial stage but the aircraft requires more powerful engine which can generate 110 kN of Thrust class over what current GE engines can generate 98 kN for which GE has offered India its F414 Enhanced Engine which it says will be ready by 2022.

F414 Enhanced Engine which has been under development for the US Navy for its F/A-18 E/F and EA 18G aircraft fleet will be able to generate around 116 kN Thrust class which is 18% improvement over Standard F414 engines. GE believes F414 Enhanced Engines which will go into production by 2022 and already has orders worth $630 million from US Navy to replace older engines in its aircraft will make it a perfect fit for the AMCA program since the developmental cost of the program already is funded by US Navy.

British Defence Secretary Sir Michael Fallon in his visit to India in 2017 had offered India to jointly develop a new engine based on EuroJet turbofan engine which powers Eurofighter Typhoon. The UK already has invited India to co-develop a sixth-generation fighter called the Tempest but no decision has been taken yet but India is yet to take a call on co-development offer on both engine and new 6th generation fighter aircraft with the United Kingdom.

Military think tanks in India have called for the revival of Kaveri engine program so that India is not left behind in the development of military-grade turbo class engines for its fighter and transport aircraft programs and have called upon Modi government to inject program with more funds and new engineers and scientist along with the participation of private sector to kick start the program again. DRDO officials who spoke to believes the key decision on the direction of the program will be taking place next few months, will DRDO get-go head to have talks with Rolls Royce or new core team will be formed to develop new higher thrust engines with fresh funding what will chart the future course of military jet engines development in India.

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