Paths to secure fighter engine supply

Spitfire9

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India plans to produce several hundred Mk1A, MWF, TEDBF, AMCA and possibly ORCA fighters. The Kaveri project has not resulted in an engine suitable for use in the Tejas, so all designs except AMCA Mk2 are planned to be powered by GE404 or GE414 engines giving the following thrusts:

GE404 53.9 kN (12,100 lbf) thrust dry, 90 kN (20,200 lbf) with afterburner
GE414 58.5 kN (13,200 lbf) thrust dry, 98 kN (22,000 lbf) with afterburner

GE engines are subject to the US government approving their export to India. Approval can be suspended or terminated for political or for economic reasons. This puts India in a precarious position.

How can India best find alternatives to using American engines? Current proposed possibilities are:

Collaboration with SAFRAN to complete development of the Kaveri engine
Collaboration with RR to develop an engine to power AMCA

With an increase in wet thrust Kaveri would be suitable for Tejas and Tejas Mk1A but what is the likelihood of it being available before all Mk1A aircraft ordered by IAF have been delivered? If production versions of the engine are too late to use in Tejas Mk1A production, is it worth finishing Kaveri development?

A joint RR/Indian 110kN engine would be suitable for use in AMCA Mk2 and with Mk2 not scheduled for production until the 2030's, it could be available in good time for production.

Should India bite the bullet and invest very heavily in securing the freedom to manufacture and further develop (having IP rights) these engines? What about substitution of GE414 with an Indian engine - should a power boosted Kaveri be developed or a derated version of the proposed new 110kN engine be used?
 

Tshering22

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India plans to produce several hundred Mk1A, MWF, TEDBF, AMCA and possibly ORCA fighters. The Kaveri project has not resulted in an engine suitable for use in the Tejas, so all designs except AMCA Mk2 are planned to be powered by GE404 or GE414 engines giving the following thrusts:

GE404 53.9 kN (12,100 lbf) thrust dry, 90 kN (20,200 lbf) with afterburner
GE414 58.5 kN (13,200 lbf) thrust dry, 98 kN (22,000 lbf) with afterburner

GE engines are subject to the US government approving their export to India. Approval can be suspended or terminated for political or for economic reasons. This puts India in a precarious position.

How can India best find alternatives to using American engines? Current proposed possibilities are:

Collaboration with SAFRAN to complete development of the Kaveri engine
Collaboration with RR to develop an engine to power AMCA

With an increase in wet thrust Kaveri would be suitable for Tejas and Tejas Mk1A but what is the likelihood of it being available before all Mk1A aircraft ordered by IAF have been delivered? If production versions of the engine are too late to use in Tejas Mk1A production, is it worth finishing Kaveri development?

A joint RR/Indian 110kN engine would be suitable for use in AMCA Mk2 and with Mk2 not scheduled for production until the 2030s, it could be available in good time for production.

Should India bite the bullet and invest very heavily in securing the freedom to manufacture and further develop (having IP rights) these engines? What about the substitution of GE414 with an Indian engine - should a power boosted Kaveri be developed or a derated version of the proposed new 110kN engine be used?
Rolls Royce (RR) is a British company and is vulnerable to US diplomatic pressure. The British are not exactly an independent lot these days when it comes to international policies. It is one of the main reasons for the Swedish Saab JAS-39 Gripen to fail in securing contracts from developing countries with regional ambitions.

Gripens have been developed with significant inputs from BAE Systems and the British have the first right of refusal. Meanwhile, the engine is purely American. Volvo has no control over the IP of the engine and therefore if the US puts its foot down (and it will when it sees India in the same light as it does China these days), our fighters will be sitting ducks.

There are only two options for India:

1) To go at it fully, investing our own money, even if it means canceling some useless subsidies and populist schemes to fund this project. Here, the benefit will be that our engineers will learn the crux of what goes into making a powerful military jet engine, right from the mistakes to the improvements. This is where the Kaveri engine experience acts as a pedestal to step on and evolve.

2) To collaborate with Safran and develop a completely new engine from scratch. France, despite being a Western power, has a strong, independent foreign policy that does not kowtow to the US pressure. Much of this independence has to do with the fact that the US did everything to destroy the French nuclear program during the CDG days. This upset France terribly, who during those years, kept an arms' length away from the British and the Americans politically speaking.

Besides, France has a very positive view of India and the Indian military as compared to Germany or the UK, and has been a steadfast partner for India in the toughest of times. It was the third country apart from Russia and Israel and the only western power to stand up for us in 1998 when the world sanctioned us.

Given the bonhomie between Macron and Modi Ji, this strategic cooperation is only going to increase in the near future. France is a power that does not flaunt its political position, and yet remains globally relevant; someone ideal for India to collaborate with.
 

Spitfire9

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There are only two options for India:

1) To go at it fully, investing our own money, even if it means canceling some useless subsidies and populist schemes to fund this project. Here, the benefit will be that our engineers will learn the crux of what goes into making a powerful military jet engine, right from the mistakes to the improvements. This is where the Kaveri engine experience acts as a pedestal to step on and evolve.

2) To collaborate with Safran and develop a completely new engine from scratch. France, despite being a Western power, has a strong, independent foreign policy that does not kowtow to the US pressure. Much of this independence has to do with the fact that the US did everything to destroy the French nuclear program during the CDG days. This upset France terribly, who during those years, kept an arms' length away from the British and the Americans politically speaking.
I do not think that 1) is possible within the time scale required for AMCA.

The problems I see with 2) are the high price that SAFRAN will likely want, a reluctance to facilitate India acquiring the IP to enable India to build other engines, the danger that any JV with SAFRAN will result in an engine based on existing French design.

While I agree that there is less political risk partnering with France, I think that India would find RR more co-operative. To me a new JV engine should result in India being able to make and modify the engine herself. That would make Indian engine manufacture independent of political interference.
 
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