Engine manufacturing, especially those which power fighter aircraft, are considered to be at the cutting edge of technology and very few countries in the world have been able to master it since the end of the second world war. India’s own attempt at developing fighter aircraft engines have had a chequered past with the Kaveri engine program falling short of its potential reported Dev Kachari of TOI.
The White House in a press statement on January 31, as part of US-India initiative on Critical and Emerging Technology (iCET), stated that the US government has received an application from General Electric, to jointly produce jet engines that could power jet aircraft operated and produced indigenously by India and that the US government is committed to an expeditious review of this application the report added further.
It is pertinent to note that an earlier effort at co-developing a jet engine under the Defence Technology and Trade Initiative (DTTI) has failed to take off owing to U.S. domestic legislation following which the Joint Working Group on it was wound up.
“In the field of defence manufacturing, the two sides agreed to focus on joint production of key items of mutual interest. The U.S. committed to expeditious review of the licence application submitted by General Electric to produce jet engines in India for the indigenously manufactured LCA. A new Innovation bridge will be created to connect defence start-ups on both sides,” the Ministry of External Affairs said in a statement issued on the visit of National Security Adviser Ajit Doval to the U.S. He co-chaired the inaugural meeting of the initiative on Critical and Emerging Technologies (iCET) along with his U.S. counterpart Jake Sullivan.
“The United States commits to an expeditious review of this application,” said a fact sheet issued by the White House on “U.S.-India elevate strategic partnership with the initiative on iCET.”
The fact sheet outlined a new bilateral defence industrial cooperation roadmap to accelerate technological cooperation between both countries for joint development and production, with an initial focus on exploring projects related to jet engines, munition-related technologies, and other systems.
Development of a fighter engine is among the top priorities for India and is considering three global engine makers — General Electric of the U.S., Rolls Royce of the U.K. and Safran of France — for joint collaboration to develop 110KN engine. The TEJAS is powered by the GE-F404 engine while the TEJAS MK-2 and AMCA in future will be envisaged to be powered by the more powerful GE-F414 engines.
Other global engine manufacturers Safran of France and Rolls Royce of the U.K. have also submitted detailed proposals for co-developing a jet engine.
An earlier effort to develop a jet engine indigenously under the Kaveri program was shelved after it ran for over 30 years with an expenditure of ₹2,035.56 crore which saw the development of nine full prototype engines and four core engines. The Kaveri project was sanctioned by the Cabinet Committee on Security (CCS) in 1989.
Ajit Doval is on a three-day visit to the U.S. from January 30 to February 1. The initiative on iCET was announced by Prime Minister Narendra Modi and President Joseph Biden during their meeting in Tokyo in May 2022.
“iCET aims to position the two countries as trusted technology partners by building technology value chains and support the co-development and co-production of items,” the MEA statement said. It also aims to address regulatory restrictions, export controls and mobility barriers through a standing mechanism and the U.S. side also assured support to ease export barriers to India in a few critical areas, including through efforts towards legislative changes, it stated.