Friday, October 29, 2010

Lockheed Martin Touts Engine Advantage In Indian Fighter Bid

Aerospace Daily & Defense Report Oct 29 , 2010 , p. 15
Neelam Mathews

NEW DELHI – As President Barack Obama’s visit to India draws closer, Lockheed Martin is talking up its offering for the Medium Multi-Role Combat Aircraft (MMRCA) competition.

Lockheed Martin’s F-16IN is powered by the GE F-110-132A engine. GE recently won a contract to provide F-414 engines for India’s Light Combat Aircraft (LCA). Michael Griswold, Lockheed’s director of advanced development programs, says the LCA win is a good sign that the U.S. can meet its export control requirements. “GE brought the best engine on the table at the lowest cost,” he says.

“GE F-110-132A is the most powerful engine of all the contenders of the [126-aircraft] MMRCA bid,” Griswold says. “Technology insertions for the engine include blisk fan, radial augmentor and a low-drag nozzle.”

Rival Boeing’s F/A-18 carries twin F-414 engines.

Addressing concerns by some in the Indian Air Force about a single-engine aircraft, Griswold says: “The trend is toward single-engine design. ... These engines are so safe and there are savings in reliability and maintainability.”

Griswold was not willing to comment on India’s fifth-gen fighter being developed with Russia, and whether it would restrict future procurement.

The architecture of the F-16IN, “which enables growth,” includes commercial-off-the-shelf processors, a fiber-optic network and digital video for flexible and situational awareness for the pilot, Lockheed Martin says.

The company has already signed agreements with more than 30 companies in India to fulfill offset requirements should it be awarded the contract.

One potential stumbling block for U.S. competitors is the Communications Interoperability and Security Memorandum of Agreement (CISMOA), which India has yet to sign. The U.S. will not allow the export of certain sensitive items until India signs.

“Both the Indian air force and the U.S. Air Force have communicated on this and both clearly understand the implications of CISMOA and how it affects the MMRCA,” a senior official tells AVIATION WEEK.

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