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In a remarkable stride in India’s indigenous defence manufacturing, the Twin Engine Deck Based Fighter (TEDBF) project, designated for the Indian Navy and to be manufactured by Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL), is set to receive a significant boost. The project is poised to incorporate the cutting-edge DRDO-Safran-developed 110kN engine, marking a critical milestone in India’s quest for self-reliance in defence production.

The collaborative effort between the Defense Research and Development Organization (DRDO) and Safran has reached an advanced stage, with discussions focused on establishing a comprehensive framework for the development of this state-of-the-art engine. The engine’s significance extends beyond TEDBF, as it is earmarked for deployment in the Advanced Medium Combat Aircraft Mk2 (AMCA) fighter jets, set to enter service from 2034-35 onwards. What makes this development even more noteworthy is that the engine is entirely manufactured within India, aligning with the country’s ‘Make in India’ initiative.

One of the standout features of this 110kN engine is its dimensional compatibility with the existing F-414 engines, a key engine used in various aircraft, including the AMCA. This compatibility ensures that the transition to the new engine will not necessitate significant modifications to the air intakes and rear fuselage of both the AMCA and TEDBF platforms. This commonality streamlines the integration process and reduces potential design complexities.

The TEDBF program is set to follow a well-defined timeline. The initial phase will involve the development of four prototypes powered by the American GE F-414 engine, producing a thrust of 98kN. As the program advances, TEDBF is expected to gain Cabinet Committee on Security (CCS) clearance around mid-2024. This pivotal step will pave the way for further development and testing, with a prototype rollout tentatively scheduled for 2027 and the first flight anticipated in 2028. Following the prototype rollout, a comprehensive five-year period of developmental trials is envisaged, leading to the clearance for full-scale production around 2033. The first production aircraft is projected to roll out by the close of 2035.

The TEDBF program carries immense strategic significance for the Indian Navy. It is aimed at replacing the ageing fleet of 45 Mig-29K aircraft initially supplied by Russia, bolstering the Navy’s naval aviation capabilities and combat readiness significantly. With an expected total order book reaching approximately 100 units by 2040, TEDBF is poised to play a vital role in enhancing India’s defence preparedness.

Furthermore, the Ministry of Defense (MoD) has recently confirmed its plans to execute the TEDBF program through a Special Purpose Vehicle (SPV) model, mirroring the approach taken for the AMCA program. Under this model, a new aerospace company will be established, with a majority stake held by a private sector consortium, reinforcing India’s commitment to advancing indigenous defence manufacturing capabilities.

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