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Jet engine options for Tejas MK2 & TEDBF, if US imposes CAATSA on India

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Photo:- Rolls Royce
Photo:- Rolls Royce

Quoting an anonymous source, Reuters on its article wrote that, The United States is unlikely to exempt India from CAATSA sanctions for the planned acquisition of Russian S-400 air defense systems.

According to me, CCATSA sanctions on India from United States is very unlikely. As of now, any US officials haven’t commented anything on this matter and quoting any anonymous person doesn’t mean anything.

We had already published an article on this matter that why US will sanctions on India over S-400 acquisition and I still stand strongly that America is going to sanction India.

But if US imposed CAATSA on India, one question that immediately hit our mind is that, what will happen with Tejas MK1A/MK2 and TEDBF fighter jet program as both the aircrafts are going to be powered with GE (General Electric) engines.

India jet engines requirements

Currently India requires jet engines for its upcoming 3 different class of fighter aircrafts, Tejas MK1A, Tejas MK2 and for TEDBF (Twin Engine Deck Based Fighter).

Also Read:- HAL Tejas LIFT/SpORT Program, everything you need to know

If United States shuts its door for India, the European option is still available for India to power it upcoming fighter jets.

India is not looking for any Russian engine as Russia in present times develop far inferior jet engines in comparison to its western counterparts and the serviceability issue with Russian engines is not hidden from anyone.

Russian engines is not as efficient as the western engine has become nowadays. To maintain thrust to weight ratio, Russian engines used to add extra fuel in the afterburner stage which results in increase in temperature and a dark smoke at the outlet of the engine.

Tejas MK1A

The first and the most immediate requirement of jet engine is for Tejas MK1A. Currently Tejas MK1 of India is powered with GE404 IN20 engine which produces a thrust of around 85-87 KN.

The same will be fitted in MK1A variant and the full fledged production MK1A is expected to begin from 2022-23.

The S-400 is likely to arrive in india by the end of 2021 and probably it will become operational in the first or second quarter of 2022. This means if CAATSA is coming, it will knock our doors somewhere around 2022-23.

The deal for MK1A is set to sign in February during Aero India 2021. Sensing the foggy environment, HAL will definitely order and probably receive ample stocks of GE 404 IN20 engine from America before any eventuality.

Means, CAATSA is not going to impact Tejas MK1A, if we play swiftly.

Tejas MK2

The next most ambitious fighter jet program of India is to develop Medium Weight Fighter also known as Tejas MK2. Currently a GE 414 IN6 engines capable in delivering 98KN of wet thrust is planned for Tejas MK2.

MK2 is most likely going to enter into production by 2026-27. GE 414 IN6 engines is ideal for MK2, but if US closes its door than India has 2 options for engine.

The first option is from French company Safran and the second is from an UK company Rolls Royce.

HAL can power its Tejas MK2 with Snecma M88-4 engine. Safran M88-4 engine which is under development is the higher thrust variant of M88. Once developed the M88-4 will be able to produce 95-105KN thrust.

As per reports, the M88-4 will be develop by 2023. India can use higher thrust variant of EJ-200 as a powerplant for MK2.

The second option is EJ-200 by Rolls Royce. Rolls Royce EJ-200 is currently fitted in Eurofighter Typhoon. Although thrust to weight ratio in both the engine is not as good as GE-414, but having something is always better than nothing.

TEDBF (Twin Engine Deck Based Fighter)

ADA (Aeronautical Development Agency) is working to develop a Twin Engine Deck Based Fighter aircraft for Indian Navy by the end of decade.

For TEDBF India can use M88-2 engine from Snecma. The M88-2 is capable in delivering a thrust of around 73 KN.

The second most obvious option for TEDBF is EJ-200 by Rolls Royce.

Their is also a third option for Tejas MK2 and TEDBF. Some time ago, Safran made an offer to GTRE (Gas Turbine Research Establishment) India – to replace hot core of indigenous Kaveri engine with the core of M88 engine, which can enable Kaveri engine to develop wet thrust of somewhere around 100 KN.

Also Read:- India & UK government are close to an agreement to co-create a new jet engine that can power AMCA

As we all know that, while developing Kaveri engine for Tejas, GTRE failed to stabilize hot core and replacing the Kaveri hot core with Snecma M88 is not a bad option. But the main problem is that Safran is not ready to give IP (intellectual Property) rights to India and it can become issue for us in long term.

For AMCA (Advance Medium Combat Aircraft), India never looked for GE or Pratt & Whitney jet engines. Yes, the limited series variant of AMCA is going to be powered with GE 414 engine but the FOC (Final Operational Clearance) variant is going to powered with a 110 KN engine, developed by a Joint Venture (JV) company.

As of now the foreign partner is not decided. There will be someone between Safran and Rolls Royce, whoever gives a better deal and IPR to India.

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