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French aerospace engine manufacturer Safran has recently expressed significant interest in collaborating on the development of a new engine for India’s Advanced Medium Combat Aircraft (AMCA) program. During a briefing held in Paris, attended by Dr Samir V. Kamat and the Indian AMCA team, Safran proposed a co-development initiative for a new engine core capable of generating 75kN of thrust. When combined with an afterburner, this engine core has the potential to produce a thrust class ranging from 110kN to 120kN.

Sources familiar with the matter, speaking to idrw, have revealed that the proposed engine core will be larger than the M-88 engine currently powering the Dassault Rafale. Additionally, it will feature a turbine inlet that can withstand higher temperatures than those observed in the M88 engine. To address this requirement, Safran has proposed the development of new-age materials that can effectively manage the engine’s stress levels while operating at higher temperatures.

Safran reportedly informed the DRDO/AMCA team that a prototype of the new engine will be ready within the next five years, marking the commencement of initial trials. Following this, in the subsequent two to three years, Safran plans to initiate trials onboard a Rafale fighter jet, which will serve as a flying testbed owned by Dassault, and can be made available to Safran for engine testing purposes. This arrangement is expected to expedite the engine’s development and facilitate real-world evaluations.

The proposed 110-120kN engine not only holds potential for the AMCA program but is also compatible with the Dassault Rafale. This compatibility provides the Indian Air Force (IAF) with the option to increase or replace the current M-88 engine, which has a thrust rating of 75kN, on their Rafale fleet. This flexibility enables future upgrades and enhances the overall operational capabilities of the aircraft.

Furthermore, there are indications that India is considering equipping its Twin Engine Deck Based Fighter (TEDBF), a canard delta wing, twin-engine, carrier-based, multirole combat aircraft currently under development for the Indian Navy, with the proposed Safran engine. This could potentially lead to a production order in larger quantities. There have also been reports suggesting that the same engine might power the second batch of upgraded Tejas Mk2 fighter jets, expected to be developed after 2035.

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