India picks GE's F414 for Tejas MkII fighter

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General Electric has defeated the Eurojet consortium in a contest to provide the engine for a new version of India's long-delayed Tejas light combat aircraft.

The US manufacturer has won a deal to supply 99 F414-INS6 turbofans for the Tejas MkII, following a selection decision by India's Aeronautical Development Agency.

"GE Aviation will supply the initial batch of engines and the rest will be manufactured in India under a transfer of technology arrangement," says GE India chief executive John Flannery in a 1 October statement.

"The F414-INS6 is the highest-thrust F414 model and includes state-of-the-art technology to meet India's demanding air force and naval requirements," GE says. This includes full authority digital engine control software.

India had requested bids to provide a more powerful engine for the next version of its Tejas lightweight fighter, and shortlisted proposals on both the new version of the F414 - a type which powers Boeing's F/A-18E/F Super Hornet and Saab's Gripen NG demonstrator - and the Eurofighter Typhoon's Eurojet EJ200.

New Delhi has previously ordered 41 less-powerful GE F404 engines to power early examples of the Tejas, while plans to field the Gas Turbine Research Establishment's indigenous Kaveri have suffered numerous delays.

 
© Aeronautical Development Agency
The Indian air force wants more power for its Tejas fighters

The F414 selection comes as a major blow to Eurojet partner companies Avio, ITP, MTU Aero Engines and Rolls-Royce.

The European consortium had hoped to produce the EJ200 for the Tejas and also offer operational benefits through its commonality with the power plant for the Typhoon: a candidate for the Indian air force's 126-unit medium multirole combat aircraft (MMRCA) deal. Part of the Eurojet bid had included an offer to jointly develop a thrust-vectoring capability for the Tejas.

The Gripen NG and Super Hornet are also in contention for India's MMRCA contract, along with the Dassault Rafale, Lockheed Martin F-16 and RSK MiG-35.