Now, UK pitches for joint development of future fighter jet engine

India’s plans to develop a future fighter jet engine has got strong backing from the United Kingdom (UK), with a senior minister saying that the country is ready to collaborate on the project and is looking at a government to government model to take it forward.

Making a pitch for the ambitious Indian plan to achieve self reliance when it comes to combat engines – a key technology area that only top defence production nations have expertise in – the UK has said that the two countries are `natural partners’.

“The UK and India have much to offer one another in defence, including research, development and training. To this end, both our governments are looking forward to collaborating on jet engine development in the future,” James Heappey, UK Minister for Defence Procurement said at the ongoing DefExpo here.

The offer comes even as leading French engine manufacturer Safran has said that it is ready to transfer the full technology for jet engines that can power next generation fighter jets and has initiated talks on the matter.

The UK too has considerable experience in developing jet engines with manufacturer Rolls Royce that has also supplied its products for aircraft used by the Indian armed forces like the Jaguar fighters and Hawk advanced jet trainers.

Making it clear that the commitment to develop engines will be a national project, the UK minister hinted that a government to government collaboration could be in the offing.

“I am delighted that projects of this nature can be achieved via government to government contracting, which will encourage collaboration, cooperation and partnerships across the UK and Indian defence industries,” the minister said.

As reported by ET, India has embarked on an ambitious plan to develop an advanced multirole fighter jet, with the Air Force insisting that it should be powered with an indigenous engine and home developed weapon systems.

Earlier, plans to revive the indigenous Kaveri project with the help of French technology using offsets from the Rafale deal got stalled over differences in the pricing mechanism. The upgraded Kaveri engine is not being considered for the next batch of 83 LCAs to be made in India and the jets will be powered by engines supplied by US’ General Electric but the Indian Air Force has mandated that the next generation Advanced Medium Combat Aircraft (AMCA) has to operate on Indianengines after the first two squadrons.

Engines form a major part of the cost of fighter jets, with estimates showing that for a fleet of 200 LCAs in service, the cost of engines alone would be in excess of 25 billion euros over the lifecycle of the planes.

By: ET