Bangalore: Hindustan Aeronautics Limited will likely need a three-year timeframe to absorb the technology for its ambitious co-production of GE-F414 jet engines for the Indian Air Force, Chairman and Managing Director of the Indian public sector aerospace and defence manufacturer CB Ananthakrishnan said.
“We have already initiated the discussions (with GE Aerospace). As you are aware, the MoU was signed in the month of June for the transfer of technology. And then, subsequent to that, GE also has to get the necessary approvals from their government (the US administration), which has also been approved, is what we understand. And now the next step will be that we will sign a manufacturing licence agreement with GE,” the HAL CMD told ANI in Bengaluru.
“And once that licencing agreement is signed with the GE, subsequent to that, GE will submit to us a formal proposal for the design and development of these engines within the country, for the transfer of technology of the engines within the country. And thereafter, we will start negotiating with them. We will finalise the contract, and the GE will start working on this transfer of technology processes, and we will absorb the technology in the next three-year timeframe,” Ananthakrishnan said.
The HAL top officials also apprised the Prime Minister of the progress of the coproduction of GE-F414 jet engines here in India.
In a major announcement coinciding with PM Modi’s state visit to the US in June, GE Aerospace and HAL had inked a MoU to produce fighter jet engines for the Indian Air Force.
These state-of-the-art jet engines, known for their endurance and durability, once produced in India, will further enhance the capacity of the Indian Air Force. GE Aerospace then said it had by far delivered more than 1,600 GE-F414 engines globally.
Further, HAL CMD spoke about Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s last week’s visit to its headquarters in Bengaluru, where he had flown a sortie in the indigenously made TEJAS Twin Seat Light Combat Fighter.
The sortie was carried out from the Aircraft Systems Testing Establishment, Bangalore. During the 30-minute sortie, the capabilities of the fighter aircraft TEJAS were demonstrated to the PM. This is the first time an Indian Prime Minister has flown a fighter aircraft sortie.
The first version of the aircraft was inducted into the IAF in 2016. Currently, two squadrons of IAF, 45 Squadron and 18 Squadron, are fully operational with TEJAS. An order worth Rs 36,468 crore for the delivery of 83 TEJAS MK-1A aircraft has been placed with HAL, and delivery is scheduled to begin by February 2024.
HAL has the current capacity to build eight TEJAS aircraft per year. This is being increased to 16 aircraft per year by 2025 and further to 24 aircraft per year in the next 3 years.
“The expression of the Prime Minister was that he was quite satisfied and happy. His tweet (after the sorties) would convey the sense of satisfaction the honourable PM had. After having the sortie, he visited the HAL facilities, and when he had seen the facilities, we took him across. He also appreciated the efforts put in by the HAL engineers. And this is really a motivating factor. What more can we expect when the Prime Minister of the country appreciates the efforts of HAL and the product that HAL has produced?” the HAL chief said.
Asked how many such TEJAS could be produced annually, he said the HAL intends to take it to 24.
“At present, we have our capacity at around six in numbers. Our TEJAS division as well as the aircraft division are producing; there are two lines over there that are capable of producing 16 numbers. So this is what has been planned as per the contracted delivery schedule. But we wanted to increase this capacity to 24 numbers at the minimum,” he explained.
The additional capacity, the CMD said, would help it deliver the end product to customers at least one year ahead of the original contractor delivery schedule.