End Of ‘Made In India’ Dream! No Indian Fighter Jet Will Fly With Indigenous Engine Until 2100

The deal secured by General Electric (GE) to manufacture fighter jet engines for the Indian Air Force has been seen as a setback for the ‘Made in India’ initiative. It suggests that Indian fighter jets will not have indigenous engines until 2100.

Indian fighter development program does an interesting reading. Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL) of the 1950s developed a fully operational twin-engine fighter HF-24 (Marut), which took its first flight on June 24, 1961, almost 62 years ago. Dr. Kurt Tank, a German, designed the sleek airframe.

There was no aero engine available hence Gnat aero engines were fitted. HF-24 was and has been the only big-ticket indigenous platform to serve Indian Military.

Indigenous Aero Engine Development

Gas Turbine Research Establishment (GTRE), one of the many establishments under the Defense Research and Development Organization (DRDO), was tasked to produce an aero engine. The only accomplishment of GTRE was to christen the under-development aero engine as KAVERI.

It never saw the light of the day. There were many problems. The most important of these was deficient metallurgical capability. The steel of suitable tensile strength, which could be used to produce turbine blades, could not be produced to date.

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Recommencement Of Fighter Program

In 1987, HAL recommenced the fighter development program. Yet again, there was no aero engine available.

GE 404 was acquired as a ‘to be developed’ Light Combat Aircraft (LCA). HAL had once again achieved the impossible by finding a name for the aircraft.

LCA was touted as a short form for ‘Liaison, Co-operation and Agreement’ because of the lack of indigenous components in the plane.

GE414 aero engine

General Electric (GE) has secured a deal to manufacture fighter jet engines for the Indian Air Force. The agreement was made as President Joe Biden and Prime Minister Narendra Modi held a meeting.

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