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Rolls-Royce ready to co-develop, manufacture fighter aircraft engines in India

Rolls-Royce's India And South Asia President Kishore Jayaraman Says Co-development Is In Line With ‘atmanirbhar’ Design And Manufacturing Initiative.

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British firm Rolls-Royce has said it is keen to work with India to co-develop and manufacture engines for the country’s fifth-generation fighter aircraft programme, called AMCA (Advanced Medium Combat Aircraft).

In an interview to ThePrint, Kishore Jayaraman, president of Rolls-Royce India and South Asia, also said the country will own the Intellectual Property (IP) rights for the engines if there is a partnership.

“Rolls-Royce believes we can be an able partner to build an engine in India for AMCA. That is the area of the future. To co-create, co-develop and co-manufacture. It goes in line with the indigenous design and manufacturing initiative that India wants and the atmanirbhar way,” said Jayaraman.

He further noted that joint efforts to manufacture the next set of engines for India’s future aircraft will help develop an aerospace ecosystem in the country.

“(Our) keenness is on the co-creation concept. Because at the end of the day, when we co-create, we are generating IP and the IP is generated locally. When a product is designed in India, manufactured in India, you create your supply chain and you create services concept. It creates a whole new ecosystem in the Indian aerospace sector,” he said.

Jayaraman added that Rolls-Royce believes it can create and manufacture the right engine along with the relevant agencies in India.

The company currently powers the Indian Air Force’s Jaguar deep penetration aircraft, Hawk trainers and the C-130 J Super Hercules.

Competition between Rolls-Royce and Safran

India is in talks with Rolls-Royce; French company Safran, which powers the Rafale fighter; and American firm GE, which powers the Light Combat Aircraft ‘Tejas’, for a possible collaboration to manufacture a joint fighter engine in India.

According to sources in the defence establishment, the primary competition is between Safran and Rolls-Royce. And India will look at the key area of cost along with finer details of each company’s offering in terms of transfer of technology, to make a decision.

Transfer of technology for the aircraft engine was part of the offset commitment in the Rafale contract as well. The proposal dealt with technology transfer for the development of an indigenous engine for the LCA, but it has not been fulfilled by Safran yet. The delay was slammed by the Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG) last year.

However, Jayaraman said Rolls-Royce had a “lot of talks” with the Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) and other agencies, and “there have been very promising and fruitful conversations”.

‘Hybrid is the way forward’

Rolls-Royce also wants to bring in hybrid engines for marine systems to power the Navy’s next generation of vessels.

According to Jayaram, the future is hybrid. “The future is going to be all about hybrid and all-electric. And to get into that world, Rolls-Royce is also looking at hybrid propulsion for very large carriers in the naval fleet, and we can do the needful by partnering with all relevant partners and bringing it to India,” he said.

The top Rolls-Royce executive noted that it will not be all diesel or natural gas in the future, and also talked about the environmental impact of such engines.

“(The future) is going to be about hybrid, because it will yield efficiency in terms of power requirements and in terms of the environment. And Rolls-Royce is a firm believer that the environment matters. So we will bring hybrid propulsion. We are working very seriously on that,” he said.