Hello defence lovers! In this article, we going to discuss the General Electric Ecosystem which India is building to support its budding aviation industry. the American firm General Electric will supply the engines for all upcoming India Fighters. In this article, we will discuss why this ecosystem is being created why this ecosystem may turn against the Indian interests .one day, and what we should do to avoid it.
General Electric Company (GE) is an American multinational firm incorporated in New York City and headquartered in Boston. As of 2018, the company operates through the following segments: aviation, healthcare, power, renewable energy, digital industry, additive manufacturing and venture capital and finance.
General Electric is one of the oldest jet engine manufacturing company and is also one of the two major jet engine giant in the United States, the other one being Pratt and Whitney. Globally it one of the leading brands which supply turbofan engines for commercial aviation. Other established players in the market are Rolls Royce and Honeywell.
General Electric has supplied engines for countless American fighter along with few foreign aircraft as well. Its engines are one of the most reliable engines in the world.
The General Electric F404 is a family of afterburning turbofan engines in the 47–85 kN class (static thrust). The series is produced by GE Aviation. Global partners include Volvo Aero, which builds the RM12 variant. The F404 was developed into the larger F414 turbofan, as well as the experimental GE36 civil propfan.
GE F404 was primarily designed to power the F 15 Eagles but it lost the competition to Pratt and Whitney. Later it was used to power the F/A 18 hornets of the US Navy. Later it was used on several aircraft both American as well as non-American.
As the Kaveri engine was not able to produce the desired levels of thrust, the Indian government reluctantly decided to use the F404 to power the Tejas MK 1. Although it was assumed that once Kaveri is ready, the F404 will be replaced by indigenous engines. The engine is the heart of any fighter jet. Thus flying an indigenous fighter with a foreign engine was not a very pleasant decision to make. Eventually, the Kaveri failed to produce the desired outcomes. Hence the government signed a long-term contract with General Electric to power its aircraft.
- Type: afterburning turbofan
- Length: 154 in (390 cm)
- Diameter: 35 in (89 cm)
- Dry weight: 2,282 lb (1,035 kg)
- Compressor: axial, with 3 fan and 7 HP stages
- Combustors: annular
- Turbine: 1 LP and 1 HP stage
- Maximum thrust:
- 11,000 lbf (48.9 kN) military thrust
- 17,700 lbf (78.7 kN) with afterburner
- Overall pressure ratio: 26:1
- Bypass ratio: 0.34:1
- Specific fuel consumption:
- Military thrust: 0.81 lb/(lbf⋅h) (23 g/(kN⋅s))
- Full afterburner: 1.74 lb/(lbf⋅h) (49 g/(kN⋅s))
- Thrust-to-weight ratio: 4.8 (dry), 7.8 (afterburning)
As GE f404 was not sufficiently powerful, the government decided to go with its elder brother GE F414. As of now all the upcoming fighter which are Tejas Mk 1A, Tejas Mk II, Twin Engine Deck Based Fighter TEBF, 5.5 gen AMCA will be power by GE f414 unless an indigenous option is developed. Not only Indian but the Swedish JAS 30 Grippen is also power by the F414.
- Type: Afterburning turbofan
- Length: 154 in (391 cm)
- Diameter: 35 in (89 cm)
- Dry weight: 2,445 lb (1,110 kg) max weight
- Compressor: axial compressor with 3 fan and 7 compressor stages
- Combustors: annular
- Turbine: 1 low-pressure and 1 high-pressure stage
- Maximum thrust:
- 13,000 lbf (57.8 kN) military thrust
- 22,000 lbf (97.9 kN) with afterburner
- Overall pressure ratio: 30:1
- Bypass ratio: 0.25:1
- Air mass flow: 170 lb/s (77.1 kg/s)
- Thrust-to-weight ratio: 9
Why General Electric Ecosystem?
India never intentionally paved the way for a future General Electric ecosystem in its Aviation Industry. As lack of suitable and affordable choices compelled the Indian Aviation Industry to go with General Electric products. Hence the General Electric ecosystem got created on its own.
For a very long time, the Indian Air force has been using Soviet and Russian fighters. The servicing and Maintainance of these aircraft have always been a nightmare. This is not the case with the American engines, which have proved to be much more reliable and cost-effective.
Now the Indian Airforce along with the Indian Navy want to go with this General electric ecosystem as it would make logistics, maintenance and repair very easy due to the commonality of parts. But dependence on these engines can be quite dangerous as the engines are very reliable but their manufactures are not.
The most significant hurdle that Indian Aviation Industry may face is the export hurdle. India just cannot export its fighters to whom America does not want India to supply as it may anytime impose embargo on the engines.
The Threat of embargo is quite realistic as US has done it before when it refused to supply helicopter engines for the ALH Druv. Later Indian Shakti engines were developed with French help.
S 400 and Sanctions
The threat of Sanctions from US is very real as Uncle Sam is not very happy with India’s purchase of S 400 triuph air defence system from Russia. Despite of all pressures India had inked the S 400 deal and will soon be receiving them. As a response US might impose sanctions on India which may hit the Supply of GE Engines to Indian Aviation Industry.
Other Alternatives Of General Eelectric Ecosystem
We must be ready with alternative of these General electric engines as US is not at all a reliable partner. In this case France is a perfect backup option. India- France relations have stood the test of time and today are stronger than ever. The French Snechma M 88 engines which are used in Rafales can also be used in the Tejas with slight modification as both GE 404 and M88 engines are quite identical in size and thrust.
Moreover France is interested in production of its engines in India. Since France doesnot have a very big arms market, it produces very limited numbers of its world class equipment. Thus producing engiens in India will reduce the cost to some extent.
Indigenous Engines: Complete self-reliance
Depending on Foreign partners for critical technologies like jet engien is never a solution of the priblem. We have to dvelop a jet engine of our own. Looking at the pace of the work, it does not seems to be impossible. We are rapidly developing critical tecnologies required for domestic jet engine production. Lets end the article with the positive note that one day all IAF fighter will be flying on made in India engines. That day our fighters will be truely Indigenous.