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New fighter plane engine to be upgraded

12 February, 2015 2:15 AM
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Developers of the fifth generation fighter aircraft AMCA (that is just off the drawing board) are looking out for a global aero-engine manufacturer with whom they can upgrade and co-develop the fighter’s engine.

They bank on the discussions they have slated with two manufacturers during next week’s Aero India - General Electric of US and Klimo of Russia - a top military scientist said on Wednesday.

Military R&D establishment DRDO along with the special-purpose Aeronautical Development Agency is working on the 25-tonne Advanced Medium Combat Aircraft to beef up the Air Force.

Their original plan was to buy the engine off the shelf to quicken the development time but there was no engine in the 110-kilo Newton (kN) category that they wanted. It was decided to partner an engine manufacturer who can jointly upgrade available 90-kN engine – most of it in the country - to power the AMCA.

K. Tamilmani, Director-General (Aero R&D) and head of the DRDO’s aerolabs cluster, said initial talks were slated with US and Russian sides for a possible ‘G2G’ (government to government) route as it works faster than putting out a global bid.

“We have asked for their proposals [and will go ahead with] whoever has a better offer, time frame and cost," he said after a news conference here. The goal is to integrate the new engine into the aircraft by 2020-21.

DRDO’s Gas Turbine Research Establishment which has worked on the Kaveri jet engine will be a key lab in the programme.

The AMCA story fits into the MoUs signed last month when US President Barack Obama visited Delhi last month. The two countries spoke of jointly developing jet engine technology under the ongoing Defence Technology and Trade Initiative.

"We know the AMCA numbers that we want and the features it must have,” Dr. Tamilmani said. The fighter is meant to be a super cruiser with stealth technology that enables it to escape enemy's radar ‘eyes’.

Currently, its configuration has been finalised; the project is being defined as also the funds that it will need.


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