Ravi Sharma

IAF had said Tejas with 85 kN GE engine cannot meet air staff needs

Eurojet gives 90 kN thrust though IAF wants a 100 kN engine

BANGALORE: A nine-member delegation from Eurojet Turbo, leading European military aero-engine consortium, on Wednesday concluded a three-day “workshop” for the Aeronautical Development Agency (ADA), on the feasibility of their engine being used to power the underpowered Tejas Light Combat Aircraft (LCA).

The workshop could be a precursor to the ADA — designers of the LCA — deciding on a new engine for the Tejas.

Eurojet, which is responsible for development, production, support, maintenance and sales of the new generation EJ200 engine, explained to officials from the ADA and the Air Force and Navy’s LCA project teams, how its engine could be adapted for the Tejas.

The workshop comes in the wake of an Air Force communication to the Ministry of Defence that the Tejas, with its present engine — the General Electric manufactured GE F404 IN20 — cannot meet air staff requirements. The Air Force’s reasons that the thrust (with afterburner) generated by the GE F404 IN20 — 85 kilo Newtons (kN) — is adequate for an aircraft of eight tonnes, but with the Tejas being overweight by nearly two tonnes it requires a much more powerful engine. The Air Force wants an engine that is capable of delivering a thrust of 100 kN.

Eurojet, which had made available sophisticated data on the EJ200 to the ADA, has offered to transfer all technology — including the key core technology — on the engine to India. The engine will eventually be manufactured in India. It also claims that the EJ200 meets the Tejas’ technical requirements and very little modifications will be needed to house its engine. Though Eurojet is confident that its engine will be chosen by the ADA, it will have to beat the challenge from GE, which had made a preliminary presentation on the GE414.

Sources in the ADA said that while the EJ200, with a thrust of 90 kN, brings in the latest technology in combat aircraft engines and is lighter and smaller, the heavier GE414 is capable of producing more thrust (97.5 kN). But Eurojet officials said the EJ200, which is the only five-stage compression engine in the world today, has the potential to meet the Air Force’s requirement of 100 kN.

The workshop was also an indication that the ADA has accepted the Air Force’s contention that the Tejas in its present configuration is unacceptable.