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In a significant development, Safran Aircraft Engines, a global leader in aero engine design, has partnered with the Defense Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) in India to jointly develop a powerful 110kN high-thrust engine for the upcoming Advanced Medium Combat Aircraft (AMCA) Mk2. This collaborative effort not only marks a major milestone in indigenous defence production but also paves the way for advanced capabilities in India’s fighter jet programs.

Under this groundbreaking partnership, Safran Aircraft Engines has committed to ensuring that all components of the new high-thrust engine will be locally manufactured in India. This commitment aligns with the “Make in India” initiative and showcases a strong dedication to fostering domestic production capabilities. Additionally, both countries will share joint intellectual property rights (IPR), emphasizing a mutually beneficial collaboration.

The 110kN high-thrust engine is a critical component that will power the AMCA Mk2, a 5.5-generation fighter jet scheduled for production beginning in 2035. This advanced aircraft promises to elevate India’s air defence capabilities significantly. Safran, DRDO, and Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL-GTRE) will play pivotal roles in the development of this engine.

Safran and DRDO are diligently working to finalize all frameworks for the co-development of the new engine by the end of the year. Once these aspects are ironed out, the contract for the engine’s development is expected to be signed in 2024. The progress in this venture is significant as it will have a direct impact on the AMCA program’s timeline.

Concurrently, the Cabinet Committee on Security (CCS) is expected to grant clearance for the development of the AMCA program. The Aeronautical Development Agency (ADA) has requested 15,000 crores for the development of various technologies integrated into the fighter jet. Additionally, the program includes the production of seven prototypes and pre-production aircraft.

The initial variant of the AMCA, known as Mk1, will be equipped with a 98kN Thrust Class F-414 engine. In contrast, the Mk2 variant will be powered by the advanced 110kN high-thrust engine developed through the Safran-DRDO partnership. This engine upgrade is expected to significantly enhance the aircraft’s performance and capabilities.

The collaboration between Safran and DRDO is not limited to the AMCA program. India’s naval program, which aims to develop a near 5th-generation fighter jet for operations from aircraft carriers, the Twin Engine Deck-Based Fighter (TEDBF), will also benefit from this high-thrust engine. With production set to begin in 2032-33, the TEDBF will likely feature the 110kN high-thrust engine, further bolstering the Indian Navy’s capabilities.

The first batch of 110kN high-thrust engines is projected to be ready for in-flight developmental trials by the end of 2029. Following successful trials, the engine will undergo certification processes before it is authorized for full-scale production. This timeline reflects India’s commitment to advancing its domestic defence production capabilities and achieving self-sufficiency in aero engine manufacturing.

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