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India to equip Light Combat Aircraft with more powerful engines

LCA Tejas. ADA photo

NEW DELHI (PTI): With DRDO still looking for partners to develop the indigenous fighter aircraft engine 'Kaveri', Aeronautical Development Agency has decided to equip the Light Combat Aircraft Mark II version with more powerful engines after procuring them from global manufacturers.

"We are looking to procure either the GE-414 from US or European consortium Eurojet's EJ 200 to fly with the LCA Mk II version," Aeronautical Development Agency (ADA) Director P Subrahmanyam told PTI here.

LCA's Mk II version is expected to join the IAF in 2014 after the initial two squadrons in Initial Operational Clearance (IOC) configuration are inducted.

DRDO has shortlisted these two engines after going through offers from various global manufacturers.

"Request for Proposals (RFP) is just about to go out and very soon it would be floated," the ADA Director said. The present GE 404-IN 20 engine, he said, was the interim solution as a power-plant for the LCA.

"Since the beginning, we knew that the present engine would be the interim solution as it is adequate for the IOC aircraft. We are looking to get the higher derivatives of GE-414 or EJ-200," he said, adding, "We told them (GE and Eurojet) that whatever you have on your drawing boards, we will go ahead with that".

GE-414 is the power plant for Boeing's F/A-18 E/F and the EJ 200 is fitted on the Eurofighter Typhoon. Both these aircraft are in race for IAF's over USD 10 billion 126 multi-role combat aircraft deal. On seeking higher derivative of these engines, he said, "If you get a choice between something that is existing and something which is coming in next two to three years and has the highest level of technology, why should we settle down for an existing engine? We will go for what we will get in next three years time." He said the DRDO wanted the "latest" technology and equipment for the LCA's more lethal version.

Subrahmanyam said apart from the engine technology, ADA would make sure that other equipment and systems on the LCA Mk II are latest. "The open system architecture of the LCA will help us to incorporate and integrate the latest technological advancements in the existing aircraft," he said.

He said ADA has plans of equipping the aircraft with latest avionics and electronic warfare systems so that when it joins the IAF, its technology remains contemporary.

DRDO is hoping to deliver the aircraft to the IAF in IOC configuration by December 2010. IAF will have seven squadrons of the indigenous aircraft of which the first two would be in IOC configuration and the rest would be the Mk II versions

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