F414 Jet Engine Tech Transfers

Context: The American multinational corporation General Electric (GE) has signed an agreement with India’s state-owned Hindustan Aeronautics Ltd (HAL) to make fighter jet engines for the Indian Air Force (IAF).
  • The deal will allow the manufacture under licence in India of GE’s F414 engine for the indigenous Light Combat Aircraft (LCA) Tejas Mk2.
Timeline highlighting technology advancement between India and the US:
  • 1974: India conducted its first nuclear test, leading to the formation of the Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG), and India found itself outside the elite club.
  • 1998: India conducted a series of nuclear tests, which drew global criticism and led to a period of strained relations with the United States.
  • 2008: The NSG granted a waiver to the Indo-US nuclear deal, effectively ending India’s isolation from the nuclear mainstream and technology denial regime.
    • This waiver allowed for increased collaboration in nuclear technology and trade.
  • 2016: Prime Minister Narendra Modi addressed the US Congress, emphasizing the overcoming of historical hesitations and calling for stronger economic and defense ties between India and the United States.
  • 2022: India and the United States signed a major jet engine deal, marking a significant advancement in technology collaboration.
    • This agreement included the sharing of critical technologies, signaling the end of the technology-denial regime.
About Light Combat Aircraft (LCA MK2):
  • The Cabinet Committee on Security (CCS) had sanctioned Rs 9,000 crore in 2022 to develop the LCA Mk2, a 4.5-generation fighter aircraft.
  • The roll out of LCA-Mk2 is planned by 2024 and the target is to complete flight testing by 2027.
  • LCA Mk2 will be pitched as a replacement for the Jaguars, MiG-29s and Mirage 2000s when they start retiring in a decade.
  • It is capable of carrying eight Beyond-Visual-Range (BVR) missiles together but can also integrate all native weapons, as well as a variety of advanced weapons from other countries like Scalp, Crystal Maze and Spice-2000.
Features of GE’s F414 engine:
  • Afterburner Turbofan: It is an afterburner turbofan engine, 154 inches long, providing thrust in the 22,000-pound (98 kilonewtons) class. The afterburner technology enhances the engine’s thrust for improved take-off, climb, and combat performance.
  • Thrust-to-Weight Ratio: The F414 engine boasts a thrust-to-weight ratio of 9:1, indicating strong aircraft propulsion.
    • A higher thrust-to-weight ratio enables better acceleration, excess thrust, and rate of climb.
  • Low Maintenance Costs: The engine is designed for low maintenance costs and offers unrestricted engine performance on demand. It has a track record of over five million engine flight hours.
  • Reliability and Durability: The F414 engine is known for its reliability and durability, resulting in reduced life-cycle costs.
    • It is designed to maximize time on wings, indicating operational reliability.
  • Cost: The estimated production cost of F414 engines for F-18 Super Hornets is reported to be $3.71 million.
Additional Information  What are Light Combat Aircraft?
  • Light Combat Aircraft or LCA is a fighter aircraft that is on the lower side of weight, cost, and other features.
  • Also known as light fighters, the aircraft provides cost-effective design and performance by selecting specific features according to requirements.
  • A well-designed LCA can also match heavier jets and that too at a lower cost. LCAs are thus considered as strategically valuable assets.
HAL’s Tejas LCA:
  • In India, state-run Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL) has produced India’s first self-made LCA, Tejas.
  • It is a single-engine4th generation, multirole light fighter designed by the Aeronautical Development Agency (ADA) in collaboration with HAL’s Aircraft Research and Design Centre (ARDC) for the Indian Air Force and Indian Navy.
  • The fighter development started in the 1980s to replace India’s ageing MiG 21 fighter jets.
Source: The Hindu, business standardIndian Express

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