The Defence Ministry has directed authorities to complete negotiations with France to co-develop a new fighter jet engine as soon as possible, seeing it as a critical component in India’s efforts to achieve military equipment self-sufficiency.
The ministry has advised authorities that continuing talks should be completed within a month, as the topic has been hanging in the air for some time, owing to disagreements about how to fund research and development costs for a new jet engine.
For the future class of advanced medium combat aircraft (AMCA), India needs a new 110 kilonewton powered engine, and it has been in talks with France to use some of the offsets from the Rafale fighter jet sale to fund the project.
After meetings with his counterpart Florence Parly, who was in India at the time, Defence Minister Rajnath Singh stated in December last year that France had committed to build a military engine in India under the strategic partnership model.
According to ET, the Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) is developing a new fighter jet engine complex, with advanced talks with French company Safran to co-develop a 110 kn jet engine.
Initial assessments indicate that an engine for next-generation combat aircraft can be built within seven years of the project being sanctioned, as it was established as a national goal to accomplish essential jet engine technology that only a few countries around the world possess.
Safran, a French engine maker, has offered a competitive technology transfer to develop the engine and exploit the Rafale offset credits. Since 2016, there have been discussions of using a portion of the 3.5 billion euro offsets promise to buy jet engine technology.
The talks had come to a halt after further assessments revealed that only a portion of the offsets – slightly over 250 million euros – could be used for the project, leaving the government to raise the remaining 500 million euros. Efforts are now being made to find a method to move the project forward while lowering expenses.
Engines are one of the most important systems on fighter jets, and only a few countries have mastered the technology. According to rough estimates, the cost of engines alone for a fleet of 200 Light Combat Aircraft in service would exceed 25 billion Euros throughout the planes’ lifetime.