India to get EUR 1 Billion to Revive India’s Combat Jet Engine from France

India's combat jet engine project

France has offered to invest EUR 1 billion to revive India’s combat jet engine project, proposing a joint development plan that could see the stalled ‘Kaveri’ gas turbine powering indigenous Tejas fighters by 2020.

The proposal is to use offset credits that would come from the planned Rafale fighter jet deal to revive the indigenous jet engine project, people involved in talks between the Indian defence ministry, the Defence Research & Development Organisation and French companies told ET.

Foreign arms companies that sell equipment to India are mandated to invest a portion of the contract cost in the country’s defence and aerospace industry. In the case of the Rafale deal, which India and France are negotiating, the offset obligation is 50% of the cost, which would translate to over EUR 3 billion.

Sources said that since January, several rounds of discussions have taken place between Indian authorities and French company Safran, which developed the M88 engine that powers the Rafale as well as the Shakti engine for Indian advanced light helicopters.

French experts who assessed the Kaveri engine — which was more or less abandoned for aviation use in 2014 due to shortcomings on power —indicated that 25-30% more work would be needed to make it flight-worthy.

According to the deal being offered, India would not need to spend any more developmental money on the project and Safran would take on the investment, committing to make the Kaveri flight-worthy within 18 months. The proposal is to integrate the upgraded Kaveri with the Mk 1 A version of the Light Combat Aircraft by 2020.

The air force is committed to buying at least 80 of the LCA Mk 1 A fighters that will meet higher technical requirements than the version inducted this year. It is currently powered by GE 404 engines.

A person involved in the discussion said,

“The proposal is to have the Kaveri ready for the next version of the LCA that would then boast of an indigenous engine as well. The French are confident that this can be done and are willing to put in money into the project,” .

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