GE engine set to power India's indigenous combat fighter
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GE engine set to power India's indigenous combat fighter

Thursday, 30 September 2010, 18:56 Hrs
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Bangalore: General Electric's subsidiary GE Aviation was Thursday declared the lowest bidder to supply engines to power India's Light Combat Aircraft (LCA) Mark-2, the indigenous second-generation Tejas fighters.

"GE Aviation emerged as the lowest bidder for supplying about 100 engines (GE-414) to fit into the LCA Mk-2," Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) Chief Controller (R&D) Prahlada told IANS.

The aircraft will be flown both by the Indian Air Force and the Indian Navy. The IAF has placed an order with the state-run defence behemoth Hindustan Aeronautics Ltd (HAL) to supply 40 Tejas fighters.

Europe's Eurojet, a sister concern of Eurofighter that manufactures jet engines for its Typhoon fighter, was the other bidder short-listed with its EJ 200 for the multi-billion rupee order after the global tender floated in 2009 by the Indian defence ministry.

"Price negotiations and contract finalisation will be worked in the next two months," Prahlada said. "GE Aviation will deliver 20 GE-414 engines from 2014 and the rest will be manufactured in India under transfer of technology to our defence establishments."

According to a statement by the state-run DRDO, the price negotiating committee for the alternate engine declared GE Aviation the lowest bidder after commercial quotes of both the bidders were compared following evaluation and acceptance of their technical offer.

"We have decided to go for a new engine for the LCA Mk-2 after the Indian Air Force (IAF) sought a better engine with higher rate of performance in terms of speed, thrust and vector than GE-404 engines being used in LCA Mark-1," Prahlada pointed out.

GE had offered to upgrade the engine in future with newer innovations for better thrust and optimum fuel utilization.

This is also a requirement for the US Navy, which has placed a $5.297 billion order with Boeing for 66 F-18 E/F Super Hornets and 58 Electronic Attack Super Hornets designated Growlers for delivery from 2012 through 2015.

Indications are that HAL will manufacture more than 200 LCAs for the Indian Air Force and the Indian Navy, and some of these would also be used for training in future.

In a recent interview, IAF's Chief of Staff Air Chief Marshal P.V. Naik had told India Strategic (www.indiastrategic.in) that the LCA could be categorized as a Mig 21++ to make its role crucial in addition to the SU 30 MKIs and the Medium Multi-Role Combat Aircraft that the IAF is set to acquire.

The GE 414 powers the US Navy's twin-engine F/A 18 Super Hornets made by Boeing while the EJ 200 flies the European 4-nation Eurofighter. The GE 414 is also the engine of choice for the next generation single-engine Swedish Gripen.

Th US company is already providing gas turbine LM 2500 engines for India's indigenous aircraft carrier. The US Government had lifted the restriction on the export of this engine for India a couple of years back.

"The GE-414 engines will be developed by the Gas Turbine Research Establishment (GTRE) in Bangalore in collaboration with other DRDO agencies such as Aeronautical Development Agency and HAL," Prahlada said.

The Kaveri engine, which is in the advance stage of development at GTRE, will be fitted in the first generation LCA Mk-1.
Source: IANS
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