India’s Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) selected the General Electric F414 turbofan engine to power the second batch of indigenous light combat aircraft (LCA), also known as the Tejas. GE’s bid was lower than that of rival contender Eurojet for supply of the EJ200, the DRDO said. The American company previously supplied 41 F404 engines to power the development and initial production LCA Mk Is. A firm contract for 99 engines will now be negotiated, to include licensed production after an initial batch is delivered from the U.S.
If the Indian Air Force (IAF) favors streamlined logistics, this choice might be good news for Boeing and Saab, two contenders for the IAF’s medium multirole combat aircraft (MMRCA) requirement. The F/A-18E/F and the Gripen are both powered by the afterburning F414. The Eurofighter, the Lockheed Martin F-16E/F and the MiG-35 are also in contention. Three of the six candidates could be shortlisted within the next few months. IAF sources told Indian journalists that all six contenders fared well in flight trials, and that the final choice for the MMRCA will depend on price, technology transfer and offsets. But after the big new defense deal with Russia, India could take a strategic decision to eliminate the MiG-35 from the contest to assure a diversified supply base for its future combat aircraft fleet.