After the Indian Air force almost wrote off the Light Combat Aircraft (LCA), christened Tejas, due to its low power engine, the LCA is all set to make a comeback with the defence ministry ready to float a global tender, valued over Rs. 3,300 crore, to purchase more powerful engines for the Aircrafts.
The current engine, General Electric F-404, fitted on the LCA restricts the aircraft’s ability to carry out combat maneouvres with optimal weapons payload, as it does not deliver the required thrust.
European military aerospace engine consortium Eurojet Turbo and American company General Electric will be competing to supply 100 engines for the LCA. The Eurojet EJ200 and the GE F-414 engines generate a thrust of 95-100 Kilo Newton, which meets the IAF’s requirements.
The air force intends to induct some 140 (seven squadrons) light combat aircraft manufactured by Hindustan Aeronautics Limited over the next decade. The first LCA squadron, however, will come with the underpowered American GE-404 engines that deliver a thrust of only 80-85 Kilo Newton.
IAF sources said fitting the heavier engines would require design changes in the airframe, which could take up to three to four years. Initial operational clearance for the LCA has is now expected in 2010.