For enhancing the capabilities of the indigenous Light Combat Aircraft (LCA) India and the US are close to signing a deal worth over $600 million for supplying 99 jet engines manufactured by American giant General electric (GE) corporation.
Around two years ago, India had selected the American company General Electric over its rival European Eurojet 2000 for the LCA Mark II programme expected to be ready around 2014-15.
Negotiations with the US firm over various issues involved in the deal, including price and transfer of technology, have been held and it is hoped that the deal for these engines to be fitted on the LCA Mark II would be signed soon, Defence sources said here.
As per the contract, the order could be for 99 engines initially but India will have the option of order for another 100 engines in the future.
The engine on offer for the LCA Mark II is GE F-414 engine, which are more powerful that the GE F-404 engines fitted in the first batch of LCAs that the Indian Air Force would receive in near future.
The need for changing the existing engines in the LCAs was felt after the IAF found out that the GE-404 engines were not providing enough power to the aircraft and more powerful engines were needed for the purpose.
The DRDO is developing the LCA Mk II to meet the Indian Air Force requirements and it will have latest technological equipment including the latest Active Electronic Scanned Array (AESA) radar and would be able to carry more payload than the LCA Mk I.
Last month, the trials of the LCA Mk I were carried out in Pokharan desert firing range where laser-guided bombs and other weapon systems were tried.
As per the current plans, the IAF will induct two squadrons of the LCA Mk I and then the delivery of LCA Mk II aircraft would be done.