Monday, September 14, 2009

Which Engine Will Power The Tejas?

Late next month, a critical competition process kicks off for the selection of an alternate power source for the Indian Light Combat Aircraft (LCA Tejas). After pre-bid feasibility studies that were conducted through much of 2008, the Aeronautical Development Agency (ADA) -- the umbrella body of agencies involved in the LCA's development -- sent out Requests for Proposal (RfP) to Ohio-based GE Aviation for the F-414-400 and Hallbergmoos (Germany) based Eurojet Turbo GmbH for the EJ200. Both companies are required to submit their technical proposals by October 12. Technical evaluations of the engines will be complete by the end of the year, though these are planned to be truncated since a lot of technical work has been pre-completed during the feasibility studies. The technical evaluation will be followed by a full schedule of trials. As you might remember, it was the Defence Ministry's Aeronautics R&D Board Propulsion Panel, headed by ADA Project Director (Propulsion Systems) Dr KVL Rao, which recommended in July last year that the LCA programme rapidly begin a process to choose between the two mentioned engines to power upto 100 fighters (with an option to power 60 more). It was after his recommendations were submitted to the ADA that feasibility studies were begun with both GE and Eurojet for their respective turbofans.

Modifications are a non-issue as of now, with both GE and Eurojet declaring that their engines can fit in the LCA's fuselage. A limited number of engines will be bought direct from the winning contender, while the rest will be license-built at HAL's engine factory in Koraput, Orissa. With all options exercised, the deal could be worth close to $600-million.

The obvious tie-in with the medium multirole combat aircraft (MMRCA) competition is the lifeblood of the Tejas new engine bid. While the EJ200 powers the Eurofighter Typhoon, the F414 powers Boeing's F/A-18E/F Super Hornet as well as the JAS-39 Gripen IN.

According to IAF sources embedded with ADA, on paper, both engines "just about" meet what the air force wants and needs from the LCA in terms of thrust. Having established that, what are the possible criteria of selection, if one were to put aside political and/or other considerations?

Point 1, virtually everyone I've spoken to at the ADA and air force believe that the engine that meets the new thrust compliance bar and fits the Tejas with the least amount of engineering, fabrication or modification will be selected. Both engines say they meet the maximum thrust requirements demanded by the IAF. The American F-414-400 is physically similar, if not identical, to the F-404 that currently powers the Tejas, and is, remember, a technological derivative of the same. Therefore, it stands to reason that ADA believes the people at GE when they say the F-414 is a spot-on fit without any tinkering. Similarly, based on information gleaned from the feasibility study, Eurojet boss Hartmut Tenter told Flightglobal earlier this year that "the EJ200 fits perfectly into the same hole." Ok.

Point 2, weight issues, which won't be taken, um, lightly. The F-414-400, at 1,109-kgs is approximately 120-kgs heavier than the EJ200.

Point 3, the F-414-400 has a stated maximum thrust of 98kN, more than the EJ200's 90kN, even though both technically meet the IAF's requirement for a 90kN turbofan. Will the extra thrust that the American engine apparently offers be enough reason to ignore the 120-kgs of additional weight that it brings to the competition? Maybe.

Point 4, the folks at ADA have had a great amount of experience working with GE on the LCA programme, so the American firm is well-versed with the rough and tumble of the IAF's qualitative requirements. Working with a firm that is already "in the picture" about your requirements is an intangible consideration, but a consideration nevertheless.

Point 5, if the IAF's mantra for lowering inventory type is taken even a bit seriously, then the outcome of this competition could bring a great amount of influence to bear on the far more lucrative MMRCA competition. This alone could give the government a huge amount of leverage either way, though it could also slow things down significantly to the detriment of the LCA programme.

The selection process begins next month. Stay tuned.

Photo of Tejas ©Copyright Kedar Karmarkar


Anonymous said...

superb post, shiv. i think you have captured the issue rather well. but i have a feeling ADA will go for the 414.

nitish said...

Ive never seen afterburners engaged in LCA(GE F-404 engines)in any of the pics available on it bcos 404 is low powered or jus that hal doesnt wanna spare extra fuel for the show.

Anonymous said...

"power upto 100 fighters (with an option to power 60 more)"...that's it? I would have imagined at least double that number of LCA's taking to the skies. Any scoop on the final number of Tejas' to be inducted and eventually/hopefully exported?

Prasun K Sengupta said...

General Electric's F414-GE-400 for the Tejas LCA Mk2 and General Electric's F110-132A for the F-16IN Super Viper. GE will sweep it, set and match! GE also gets to set up an engine MRO workshop for CFM56 and GE90 turbofans at Nagpur, thereby overshooting--in dollar terms--the MoD-mandated industrial offsets requirements. Just prior to announcing the M-MRCA competition's winner, the MoD will announce that the the DPP is being 'modified' to recognise the strength and value of 'strategic' indirect aviation-related industrial offsets.

Anonymous said...

I am 21.Somewhere down the line,i'll be telling my kid about a plane named Tejas that's was our product but never came into action.Believe me i can make a fighter plane faster than ADA with hook or crook.Damn these guys.....all you hear is flight tests.Make me Defence Minister and i'll teach these people how to work.

Rasogulla Eater

Anonymous said...

shiv, this photo is by kedar karmarkar of BR. you can find this one in his blog. it's also there in the aero india threads at br forum.

Anonymous said...

F414 is definitely a powerful engine but its add-ons include American sanctions and no support during time of likely conflict with PAK also one should take into consideration that the EJ200 will be comming with thrust vectoring also ej200 is better than RD33 refer to wiki which is what is required LCA is ligher than the JF17 and also with EJ200 it can stay ligher agile and will require less fuel also the range will improve thats what I feel but everything will be decided by ADA Air Force and Gov. All the best to them

anthony said...

The Eurojet EJ200 (same engine that powers the Eurofighter Typhoon) would provide supercruise capability for the Tejas.

Anonymous said...

The MCA must have an indigenous engine.

Vincent said...

414 is the best. It can be serviced on a carrier thats moving up and down and that is suitable if the LCA is ever going to be navalized.

America rocks. India is the usher.

Kartik said...

how much ToT will GE allow for its F-414 considering how tight US export restrictions are ? and if in the future, the Tejas can be exported, a US engine will definitely be a no-no because any product that competes with the F-16 will not get US permission for export. the same problem came up when Boeing was to give consultancy for ADA on the flight test program. It was also seen on the South Korean F/A-50, where South Korea was not allowed by the US to put an AESA because of a clause in the contract that Lockheed Martin signed with KAI, that the F-50 should not have a more potent weapon system than the F-16.

the terminator said...

Would ADA and GOI go for the GE414 knowing well the Americans have a penchant for sanctions and technology denial if India does not toe its foreign policies? What about the ever present end-user clauses in the bilateral sale and purchase agreements?

It would be wiser and safer to go for the European aero engine. At least we won't be left in the lurch should a conflict or all out war take place with the Pakis who are more all weather friends of the US than India can ever be.

Hope good sense will prevail. Hope MMS and the coterie of gullible leaders do not fall for the American sweet talk. It could become very painful and demeaning for India.

KR said...

With the 414 rated at 98kN, this should not even be a debate. How come the EJ200 is even in with a chance?

Anonymous said...

"The selection process begins next
month. Stay tuned."

And when does it end?

Anonymous said...

So what happens to the Kaveri then?

Anonymous said...

Jo Jen Gupta Ji,

You are so certain that the F-16IN will win the MRCA. Then what is the point of this competiton. I am sure you have excuses lined up if and when it will not win.

NJS said...

EJ200 is lesser than GE414 by 120 kg.
60 % TOT is announced for this project .
I don't think General electric will transfer 60 % TOT.
The single advantage GE has is 98 kn

India is almost selecting Defensive weapons , India Hardly needed offensive weapons . most of the offensive weapons are in problematic ( Howitzer guns , Fighter jets ( to stop depletion) , Long range Anti tank missile & MBRL , Submarines, Longer range bombers TU-22 M3 backfire. DAC should need to go Fastrack .

Anonymous said...

Can we also use the GE 414 engine is Gripen-NG-MKI?

That would be best. GE doesn't care if it's engine is used in a Gripen-NG or an F-सोलाह.

Anonymous said...

Dear Folks ,

How come we are talking about an LCA Mark II when there is not even LCA Mark Zero .

As an Indian I have to say with a very heavy heart that its time to end this never ending tamasha and go for an immediate interim replacement for Mig 21 - be it a Gripen or a Mig 35 or F16 ( considering the tomfoolry going on even a Spifire would be welcome )and leave the choice to the pilots and not some bloody " bureaucrat/technocrat/mediacrat/***crat"
Make a choice and go the whole hog in implementing the choice.

Secondly, give a timebound plan to the Indian developers to convert LCA into a mid level fighter bomber to replace the Mig 27and Mig 21 in that role. Basically a poor man's bomb truck with secondary air defense capabilities to make up the numbers. That in itself will be an achievement.

Anonymous said...

Yes Vincent - 414 is best coz its a yankee product.


Even if the IAF was issuing an RFP for shoes..and in the fray were reebok and nike...Vincent woud say Nike is best and IAF should go for is implict that this is becoz Nike is American and Reebok is not.

need I say more.

Anonymous said...

@ SHIV, this photo has been wrongly attributed. It's Copyright is held by Kedar Karmarkar who is a well known aero photographer.

please edit your acknowledgment ASAP.

Anonymous said...

"the EJ200 fits perfectly into the same hole."


Prasun K Sengupta said...

To Kartik & the terminator: Try to check out the number of US-origin components on the EJ200 turbofan from companies like BF Goodrich Aerospace. All these components will be subject to US laws and regulations governing exports of military hardware.

Vincent said...

There is more to engine quality than just wet thrust. The Chinese know this, which is why they're still fooling around with their first 4th gen fighter engine.

Reliability, operability, readiness, reaction, control, materials, cooling, pressure, stage temperatures, component life, part swapping, engine access, feedback monitoring, MTBO - all important.

Welcome to the big leagues. Unlike Russian engines in your Mig-29s which had to be pulled out and thrown away like a condom after just as low as 100 hours, the F414 is designed to stay and perform for as long 2000 hours of flight.

Excellent piece of engineering.

I don't know much about EJ200 but they are made by Eurofags. If you think the US is sanction-friendly, wait till you see the Euro Court of Human Rights.

subhojit said...

I have a few possibly naive queries.

1) Both the engines will require gearboxes. Are these integral with the engine - or is a separate gearbox being mated ? Will the position of the Gearbox in a EJ200 be same as a GE414?

2)The higher the bypass ratio - the more volume of air is needed. I understand that EJ200 is a higher bypass engine - will the existing inlets work? The practice of creating additional inlets may increase the RCS.

3)The EJ 200 can be set for higher thrust with a "life" penalty - The GE 414 EDE can have 20% extra thrust or greater life

4) Thrust vectoring : while EJ200 has thrust vectoring - that would add a weight penalty - negating the lower weight. Also - the FCS would need significant changes - and given that seems to be a challenge today (see the slow opening of the flight envelope) - would it not be better to stick to a conventional design with low maintenance ?

5) Growth - Both GE414 and EJ200 have significant growth programmes - upto 20% increase in Thrust.

It may be important to assume that LCA MK2 will be overweight by at least 10% - given the record so far..... Hence, we should order the engine accordingly

Indian said...

I guess there is a mistake in the article.

You said "While the EJ200 powers the Eurofighter Typhoon, the F404 powers Boeing's F/A-18E/F Super Hornet as well as the JAS-39 Gripen IN"

I think it's GE 414 Engine that will be used in F-18 and Gripen IN (for MMRCA) not F404. Isn't it ?

Correct me if I am wrong or update the article if you are ;)

Anonymous said...

F414 is a little long in the tooth and has almost exhausted its growth potential. EJ200 on the other hand has a more modern thermodynamic cycle and ample growth potential. Its an engine much smaller to the current F404 powering LCA and can accomodate a larger Low pressure fan to increase thrust to over 100KN. Such a modification has long been planned but was never required by EF customers.
Even in its current form EJ200 has a higher dry thrust to F414 and requires less air flow. Air intakes of LCA will have to be redesigned to accomodate the greater air flow requirement of F414.

Anonymous said...

TO Shiv and Prasun

EJ200 vs F414

most of the time fighter doesn't use afterburner main thing is the dry thrust

so when looking at dry thrust there is only 2kN dry thrust difference between F414 and EJ2000 while EJ2000 being 120kg less in weight.


EJ2000------- 29 inches
F404--------- 35 INCHES
F414--------- 35 inches

clearly shows EJ2000 can be fitted with structural modifications.

Anonymous said...

While lowering the number of inventory types is laudable, having engines from same manufacturer ( especially if it is USA) for both MRCA and LCA will mean that in the event of sanctions, a large part of the IAF fleet will be grounded!! Something I hope the IAF keeps in mind

Anonymous said...

F414 it is and not F404.

Also, they are testing two brand new engines for the F-18 - to replace the current engine. So, growth potential (if that is a concern) should be pretty good.

However, IF the F-16IN is selected then alll this is moot.

Anonymous said...

Unlike Russian engines in your Mig-29s which had to be pulled out and thrown away like a condom after just as low as 100 hours

So Vincent Unkil, now we know why you are so jealous of Russians. The hardcore Russian men 'use' a condom straight for 100 hours while your kind would be lucky to go 100 seconds. Everything becomes clear.

Anonymous said...

clearly shows EJ2000 can be fitted with structural modifications.

EJ2000 is definitely the more compact engine and will make an easy fit into Tejas. But what about MRCA then? Both Rafale and Eurofighter are frightfully expensive to buy and maintain, we will have to work with Saab and certify the Gripen NG MKI with the EJ2000 which will add at least 8 months.

Vincent said...

Use your brains. If American arms don't work and are not the best how come they consist of 60% of global foreign arms sales?

US leads the way in foreign arms sales

Saudi Arabia buying 72 more F-15s

Iraq aims to buy at least 96 F-16s

Turkey to buy 7.8 billion Pac-3 missiles

Btw no one has problems with EUMA like sorry India. And nobody else has problems like this.

Anonymous said...

In fact it makes sense NOT to have engine same as MRCA. At least LCA mk2 and MRCA will not both be grounded at the same time due to sanctions!!

Anonymous said...

vincent, don't talk about brains.

you don't have any.
BTW there's a rumor that your original brain was in your arse ?

is it true ? is it also true that you lost it when you took a dump at the age of 15 and flushed it away ?

Anonymous said...

Its EULA, not EUMA. Anyways no one has problem because unlike them INDIA wants to use the weapons for fighting a war incase its pushed on to us.
Would you think US would allow spares to be sent to India if India had to blast one more Nuclear bomb for testing??
Its not only IAF that has problems with falling bombs, but even US AF has problems with it, just google for the same.

Anonymous said...

9:47 PM

The solution to that is to stock up the spares. Buy lots of spares and consumables before you order the engines, and stock them at different locations in the country. Thus we can survive any sanction for long time.

I don't understand why our babus/netas don't order a lifetime worth of spares with engines. Always looking to maximize bribe potential.....lowlifes.

Anonymous said...


When you were born, humanity reached new low.

Anonymous said...

to vincent

whole NATO,s.korea,australia,saudi arabia,UAE,israel are american stooge

so its clear that these countries will buy either US or european military equipment

so no need to shout

Vincent said...

Wait 1 second. You want to cooperate with the world on crucial technology like weapons and arms control, but you don't want to play by the rules? You want to have a credible civilian nuke industry yet you want to test nukes whenever you want?

What the hell. Just because you are able to wag your head like a thambi or have an all year round tan doesn't make you special, or the fact that you can buy a few planes doesn't make you sacrosanct from technology leaking rules. If the USA didn't make countries play by the rules, India would be in pieces by now.

This is the babu thinking isn't it, just because you have a bit more dollars than others, you can do what you want like keep debt indentured workers or treat people serving you like shit, because you are outside the rules. What happens is India is reflected in your attitude towards other countries.

Or stop thinking like a Paki always wanting to screw people over behind their backs yet beg in front of people for things.

Vincent said...

Even the Pakis are more appreciate of American military tech superiority than stick-in-the-mud Bhindians. Just skim down the list in the link below at the accelerating military gap between Bharat and the Home of the Brave. Sidewinders fired from subs underwater. New affordable x-band Aegis-lite SPY-5. Also vast list of incremental improvmeents, but not incremental in the way like the 1 millionth and 556,223 test flight of Tejas with pylons, slightly bigger pylons, red coloured pylons, amusing shaped pylons, animal patterned pylons, etc.

Stop dicking around, India.

Anonymous said...

I hope the Kaveri engine becomes a success and eventually repace the foreign engines.

Anonymous said...

I think the time has come to think about MCA now.nly we can get product on time.. otherwise same old outdated planes will be available. India should get the technology for the latest & best engine and try developing its own MCA for future now.

Anonymous said...

Complete LCA Tejas Update???

Anonymous said...

"Vincent said...

Even the Pakis are more appreciate of American military tech superiority than stick-in-the-mud Bhindians."

Shiv, how long are you going to allow this racist mofo to comment here in the name of free speech ?

there should be a limit to everything. this is shameful !

Anonymous said...

What "rules" are you talking about? Those "rules" that allow you to produce nuke energy and test bums but the moment somebody else does it becomes a taboo !!!

And why do you care about our appreciation? Would you start loving your neighbour's son because he won a race while yours is taking baby steps at walking ???

Vincent said...

No one is testing nukes anymore for good reason. And if you do, they won't play nice. First mover advantage. You should have thought about that before practicing socialism in past decades. Cry to the UN, they will make you a superpower. Hey wait...

I like India. I really do. But you lot have screwed up the country for decades, I must speak out. Hindu rate of growth anyone? You are one of the few democratic countries who chose to embrace the Soviet Union and its idiocies and now you want to complain that other people have moved far ahead of you in technology and wealth. Your leaders consistently made bad decisions and your people refuse to own and acknowledge them but blame everybody else, but especially the USA, for you ending up on the losing side of things. Tears, I lick them off your face.

Tough nuts. If you want to be a superpower and a locus of power, you have to do the rough and tumble, and not possess the attitude that other countries must groom or mentor you to greatness, pushing policy baby food into your mouth and siding with you on everything (cough Pakistan) or else you will throw a tantrum and not buy the things you need but buy second rate equipment and when you get whupped, you blame the USA again for not being the sugar daddy enough for you to choose to buy their weapons although they were always available. Wierd childlike thinking.

India is a child and you are a child, nothing more. Cry to the spank hand.

NJS said...

To Vincent,
As long as pakis taste american $$$ in name fake Anti-terrorist operation, they use to appreciate of American military tech , No one in india hate American's , if u ask any normal person in india , which country they like most , at least 70 % of people will say its USA then only to other countries , but at the same time we hate US on supporting to PAkistan in supplying weapons, which could be used against india in war.

Anonymous said...


You wrote:

"Just skim down the list in the link below at the accelerating military gap between Bharat and the Home of the Brave..."

er...minor should be"
"Just skim down the list in the link below at the accelerating military gap between Bharat and the Home of the Cowards..."

At least get ur facts right.

anthony said...

The EJ200 turbofan will be the proposed Tejas powerplant. Why? Supercruise capability.

HAL should negotiate with EADS for licenced production of the EJ200 turbofan, should it?

Anonymous said...

"You should have thought about that before practicing socialism in past decades."

> What has socialism got to do with not testing nukes in time. Even Israel has them. Were they ever socialist?

"Hindu rate of growth anyone?"
> What is christian rate of growth nowadays?

"now you want to complain that other people have moved far ahead of you in technology and wealth."
> Who's complaining to you?

"Your leaders consistently made bad decisions and your people refuse to own and acknowledge them but blame everybody else, but especially the USA, for you ending up on the losing side of things."
> Ofcourse you are involved in separatists movements & SIMI founder's mentoring, touble-making NGOs etc,
pressurising government on anything that makes us self-reliant,
sustaining pakistan longer & longer to keep our thorn alive
and then you expect we don't blame you??? Do what you want to do but don't act surprised when others throw the blame at you.

"and siding with you on everything (cough Pakistan)"
> when you raised rubble about siding with Soviet Union then why can't others?

No one expects you will be mentoring us or anything. But we do have some unrealistic black-sheep bureaucrats and media.

Anonymous said...

I heard that the GE414 costs $4 million while the EJ200 costs $6 million. I dont see any sense in going for the EJ200.

Anonymous said...

The 'sense' in going with EJ2000 is its compact dimensions, and the ability to upgrade to a bigger fan later for higher thrust variants. The 414 is decent engine, but EJ200 is built with the lessons of 414 being kept in mind.

Most of the cost difference is due to the higher volumes of 414 compared to EJ engine. For a non-client country like India, a hundred million is nothing to protect sovereignity. The lessons learnt from ToO and assembling EJ200 will help the domestic programs immensly. GE is never gonna ToT anything, no matter what it says on contract. They don't share anything about engine manufacturing with Cananda, UK and Australia, so forget us Indics.

pritandwhitney said...

Since f18,eurofighter has twin engines. But lca can accomodate only one engine. Can you tell how this possible. You are telling that f18 has f414 which has 98kn. Both the engines combined has 98kn or each engine has 98kn. Iam not able to understand this. Please clarify. If lca accepts f414 will it have twin engines like f18 or single engine with double power.

Anonymous said...

Something doesn't add up with Tejas LCA aircraft.

JAS Gripen which weighs 6500kg uses F404J (80kN thrust) has a speed of mach 2.2.

LCA Tejas weighs only 5500kg with F404-GE-IN20 (83kN thrust) is underpowered?

Something is not right with the claims that the F404-GE-IN20 is underpowered.