In a significant development for India’s Advanced Medium Combat Aircraft (AMCA) program, General Electric (GE) Aerospace CEO Amy Gowder has announced the company’s willingness to design and build a clean-slate engine specifically for the fighter jet’s AMCA MkII variant. This marks a crucial step in India’s pursuit of self-reliance in high-thrust engine technology, elevating its aeronautical capabilities.
Gowder emphasized that the technology transfer to Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL) would surpass previous partnerships, with options for exporting engines and components from India.
The collaboration between GE and HAL began with a memorandum of understanding signed in Washington, involving the production of 99 F414 engines for India’s light combat aircraft (LCA) TEJAS MK-2 program. With an estimated value of around $1 billion, the deal encompasses an impressive 80% transfer of technology (ToT). covering crucial aspects such as coating for the hot end of the engine, crystal blades, and laser drilling technology.
These engines are intended to power the Mk2 version of the Light Combat Aircraft and initial batches of the AMCA. GE’s involvement in the joint production aims to bridge a technology gap, lay the groundwork for larger jet engine development, and potentially open doors for exports.
As the process of manufacturing GE Aviation’s F414 INS6 engines in India is underway, Gowder outlined plans to formalize the agreement with HAL and the government, with co-production set to commence this year.
This announcement aligns with India’s decision to initially acquire two squadrons of AMCA MkI jets equipped with the F414 INS6, followed by the AMCA MkII variant featuring a high-thrust engine capable of generating 110-120kN of thrust. Successfully achieving this goal not only enhances India’s air dominance but also positions the nation as a major player in the global aerospace market.
The AMCA necessitates a significantly more robust engine, especially following the completion of final testing. Given the stealth features incorporated into the aircraft, its overall capacity is greatly dependent on both the engine and avionics technology.
The AMCA (Advanced Medium Combat Aircraft) will feature a modern cockpit with a large touchscreen display for easy interaction, a vertical multi-function display, and a holographic head-up display for the pilot. The design includes a hands-on throttle-and-stick setup, with the right hand on the stick and the left hand on the throttle, to make it easier for the pilot to control.
As of February 2023, the DRDO has finished designing the AMCA and is now awaiting a “Critical Design Review,” which is a detailed technical evaluation to ensure that the aircraft system is ready for manufacturing, testing, and meets performance requirements.