France offers to end India’s hunt for jet engines

IDD Bureau

Safran, the French engine maker, which has an existing partnership to make engines for helicopters in India,  has proposed a path-breaking technology transfer to power fighter jets in India and as  per India’s requirements.

The proposal includes options for engines for the Advanced Medium Combat Aircraft (AMCA), that is New Delhi’s version of fifth generation fighter  jet besides the next version of the Light Combat Aircraft, the Tejas which is at present powered by the General Electric 404 with plans for a more powerful GE 414 in the later versions.

India is wanting a 110kn engine to power the AMCA whose first flight is scheduled in 2025.

Safran Chief Executive Officer (CEO) Olivier Andries briefed Indian Defence Minister Rajnath Singh on October 9 in Paris. He spoke about  the company’s military and civil projects in India saying the company was willing to invest some $ 150 million ( Rs 1050 crore) in India. Safran already has a unit in India  where it trains 500 engineers annually. The company  is now seeking Indian government’s support to set up maintenance, repair and overhaul (MRO) facilities in India that will include training for 500 engineers and skilled technicians.

Safran  proposal: Safran in its presentation to the Indian delegation said it was  ready to transfer military engine design capability to India’s gas turbine research establishment (GTRE). The presentation to Rajnath Singh and his delegation including the Defence Secretary Ajay Kumar said: “Safran, is the sole company in the world to propose complete transfer of know-how and know-why, allowing India to be  fully autonomous in the future and to develop and produce engines totally made in India and customized to aircraft needs”.

Safran officials further told the Indian delegation that India is the sole country in the world to whom such a transfer has been proposed. A  proposal was sent to the Defence and Development Research Organisation (DRDO).

Safran has long history in India: With an estimated 6,000 helicopters engines needed in India over the next 10 years, Safran is already the leader with more than 1000 of its engines having been used in India. , literally gives it the pole position  in the Indian market as  helicopters produced by Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL) , including the ALH, the Cheetah and  Chetak,  in the past few decades have flown with French engines

The Safran –HAL joint venture in making engines for the advanced light helicopter (ALH) is success story. Safran’s association with India started in 1960’s. Over the years agreements were signed on making the Aérospatiale SA 315B Lama (Cheetah) in India using the Artouste IIB engine of Safran that was followed by the Aérospatiale Alouette III ( Chetak). Since then the relationship has graduated from seller-buyer to that of a partnership In 2003, the TM333 engine was selected for HAL’s ALH Dhruv. Safran established Turbomeca India to oversee the cooperation with HAL. Though first envisaged in 1999, HAL finally started to license-produce Shakti engines, based on ‘Ardiden 1’ engines in 2007. So far 300 Shakti engines have been produced by HAL, which now does nearly 70 per cent of the work indigenously. Shakti engine has now been standardised for all HAL helicopters, including the Light combat helicopter (LCH)

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