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DRDO-SAFRAN ties up to develop 125kn engine for India’s indigenous 5th-Gen AMCA stealth fighter


DRDO-SAFRAN ties up to develop 125kn engine for India’s indigenous 5th-Gen AMCA stealth fighter
CGI of AMCA stealth fighter by Harshal Pal (Twitter @HarshalPal5)



For the joint development of a 125kn engine for India’s indigenous fifth generation advanced medium combat aircraft (AMCA), Defence Research and Development Organisation is expected to collaborate with French engine maker Safran. According to a senior defence official, “The talks between the officials of DRDO and the French company Safran are going on and the final agreement is expected to be sealed in the next one or two months.”


The French Company has already collaborated in making an engine for the Advanced Light Helicopter (ALH) “Dhruv’’. The Shakti engine, which is powering the ALH and its different variants was jointly developed by Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL) and Safran.

The collaboration for the engine for AMCA was discussed when the external affairs minister Dr S Jaishankar had a meeting with French defence minister Florence Parly when he had visited Paris recently.

Also, the collaboration on the engine for AMCA was discussed last year in December, when the French Defence minister had visited India. Defence minister Rajnath Singh had mentioned about a possible collaboration with a major French company in a speech.

He had said that a major company from France will come to India “for making the engine in strategic partnership with an Indian company.”

Last year, at the Aero-India 2021, too, a reference was made by the CMD of HAL about a possible tie up with a foreign company for making engines for AMCA. Later in 2021, the government also informed the Parliament about developing indigenous engines to power not only AMCA but also variants of the Light Combat Aircraft in collaboration with global engine makers.

Stealth Aircraft

As has been reported earlier, the Aeronautical Development Agency (ADA) is already working with state-owned Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL) on the indigenous LCA-Mk2. The two are also working together on AMCA as well as the twin engine deck based fighter (TEBDF) for the Indian Navy.

Financial Express Online has reported earlier that AMCA is a very critical project for not only DRDO/HAL/ADA but also for the Indian Air Force (IAF).

Once the collaboration with the French company is firmed up and the engine work starts, the development of AMCA will progress parallelly and it will help in meeting the timelines which have been set.

The production and the manufacturing of AMCA are expected to be under the Special Purpose Vehicle (SPV) and the private sector.

Last week, defence Minister Rajnath Singh in his virtual address at a post budget webinar titled ‘Aatmanirbharta in Defence – Call to Action’, made talked about SPV and expressed confidence that many projects will be undertaken by the private sector companies for design and development of military equipment and platforms. And this will be done through SPV and in collaboration with DRDO and other agencies.

Recently, the Director General of ADA, Girish S Deodhare, at an event said that the configuration of AMCA has been frozen and also the preliminary service quality requirements (PSQR) are finalised. And, the preliminary design review of the aircraft is done and the critical design review (CDR) is expected to take place later this year. The aircraft is expected to be rolled out in 2024 and the first flight is scheduled for 2025.

IAF & AMCA

Financial Express Online has reported earlier that IAF which is facing a shortage of fighters in its fleet has already announced its support for AMCA and has initiated modernization of its fleet accordingly.

The former air chief RKS Bhadauria had in an earlier presser with the media had ruled out import of a fifth-generation aircraft in the near future. He had stated that the IAF will go for indigenous fighters – LCA & AMCA.

Aggressive Timelines

If the DRDO/HAL/ADA sticks to the aggressive times they have set then the IAF will be able to induct AMCA in its fleet by the middle of the next decade.

The estimated cost of just developing the prototype of AMCA is expected to touch Rs 15, 000 crore. And it will roll out by 2025-26.

More about AMCA

This swing role fifth generation aircraft will have advanced stealth features and there will be an internal bay for smart weapons. Also, it will have supercruise capability, as this will help in attaining supersonic cruise speeds without using afterburners and as data fusion and multi-sensor integration with Active Electronically Scanned Array radars.

It will be a 25 tonne aircraft and will have an internal carriage of 1,500 kg of payload. External payload of 5,500 kg external payload internal fuel 6,500 kg.

Another major project ADA is also working on is the development of a twin engine deck-based fighter aircraft. This aircraft is for the Indian Navy’s aircraft carriers.

India has not been able to develop and an engine for the LCA – the Kaveri programme which ran for almost three decades has now been shelved.

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