Fri. May 24th, 2024

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Manufacturing these engines in India will be transformational for the Indian airspace.

New Delhi:

As Prime Minister Narendra Modi begins a landmark state visit in the US tomorrow, there is intense anticipation surrounding a potential deal to facilitate the transfer of critical engine technology manufactured by General Electric to India.

General Electric may produce the GE-F414 jet engine in India, in a multi-million-dollar deal with Hindustan Aeronautics (HAL).

Jet engine technology is widely considered the holy grail of aviation tech – everyone wants it, but very few countries have it. Manufacturing these engines in India will be transformational for the Indian airspace.

The GE-F414 is a cutting-edge jet engine that powers the F/A-18 Hornet, the US Navy’s go-to fighter.

Reports suggest America is willing to transfer key technology worth up to 80 per cent of the value of the deal – it would power the LCA-Mark2, an advanced variant of the made-in-India Light Combat Aircraft (LCA).

The deal means that General Electric will open shop in India, in partnership with HAL, to introduce the manufacturing processes required to build not just single-crystal turbine blades, but also other key components – including laser drilling for combustion, machining of powder metallurgy and the manufacture of compression discs and blades.

The GE-414-IN6 engine, when built in India, will power India’s indigenous Tejas Mk-2 fighter as well as the futuristic AMCA – or Advanced Medium Combat aircraft, a stealth fighter.

After the deal, the Indian Air Force (IAF) will have reliable and long-lasting jet engines that can be overhauled after several thousand hours. Russian engines frequently needed an overhaul at a few hundred hours. The GE engines, experts say, are lighter, more powerful, more fuel-efficient, and have the potential to be upgraded for future use.

The US has never allowed the transfer of this level of technology to anyone.

State-of-the-art jet engines include components that are deeply IPR (Intellectual Property Rights) protected, with manufacturing processes that are top secret. The technology that India may get includes the coating and machining of single-crystal turbine blades.

Manufacturing the components of jet engine turbines has been a massive engineering challenge throughout aviation history. Jet turbines need to retain their shape, strength, and efficiency at temperatures up to 2,000 degrees centigrade.

The metal alloys used in older jet engines, using conventional manufacturing techniques, failed at the highest temperatures – they lost their thermal efficiency.

A handful of companies began to develop and master the use of what are called single-crystal turbine airfoils.

Through profound chemical engineering of super-alloys, single-crystal turbine airfoils can achieve the following:

* 3 times more engine life protection against corrosion resistance.

* Far lower overall weight

* A higher melting point temperature.

* Massive engine life, up to 25,000 hours, before an overhaul.

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