Indigenous combat jet flies with improved engine

June 19th, 2008 - 10:24 pm ICT by IANS  

New Delhi, June 19 (IANS) India’s indigenously developed combat jet Tejas has made its maiden flight with an improved engine, it was announced here Thursday. “During the 44-minute flight, the F404-GE-IN20 engine demonstrated full aircraft system and instrumentation functionality, climbed to numerous mission altitudes, achieved Mach 1.1 speed and established the engine performance baseline for future flight-testing,” a GE statement here said.

“The engine has performed extremely well during all phases of testing, and we look forward to delivering the benefits of -IN20 power throughout the remainder of the rigorous program,” Tony Mathis, general manager of the F404/F414 programme, said in the statement.

Delivery of initial production engines is earmarked to Tejas manufacturer Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL) later this year, where they will be readied for aircraft installation.

Flight-testing is expected to continue into 2009 under the direction of Bangalore’s Aeronautical Development Agency (ADA), with three aircraft scheduled for flight in the third quarter of 2008, the statement said.

“Testing will involve approximately 250 flights to assess aircraft systems and engine functionality,” it added.

HAL ordered an additional 24 F404-GE-IN20 afterburning engines to power the first operational squadron of Tejas fighter aircraft for the Indian Air Force in February 2007. This order, valued in excess of $100 million, followed an initial 2004 purchase of 17 F404-GE-IN20 engines to power a limited series of operational production aircraft and naval prototypes.

The F404-GE-IN20 engine is an improved version of the GE404-F2J3 that has been powering the previous Tejas prototypes.

Flight testing follows a rigorous series of evaluations, culminating in generation of more than 19,000 pounds of uninstalled thrust and completion of 330 hours of accelerated mission testing - the equivalent of 1,000 hours of flight operation.

“The F404 fighter engine family is one of the most successful in military aviation history,” the statement said.

More than 4,000 F404 engines power a number of combat aircraft flown by the United States Air Force, Navy and Marine Corps, plus countries throughout Europe, Asia and Africa.

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