MUMBAI — India’s Tata group has partnered with General Electric of the U.S. to manufacture jet engine parts in the south Indian city of Hyderabad, starting a broader plan to pursue military engine and aircraft system opportunities for the local market.
GE currently supplies jet engines and marine gas turbines for military use in India, such as the Air Force Light Combat Aircraft Tejas Mk 1, the Indian Navy’s P-8I aircraft, and P-17 Shivalik-class frigates. Military programs under development, including the Tejas Mk 2, P-17A and P-71 ships, and AH-64 attack helicopters, will be powered by GE engines.Under the strategic partnership, GE Aviation and Tata Sons’ arm Tata Advanced Systems will manufacture, assemble and test aircraft components for the turbofan engines in a new center to be established in the city, according to a joint statement.
“We look forward to working with GE to build more expertise and strengthen India’s defense manufacturing capabilities,” said Natarajan Chandrasekaran, chairman of Tata Sons. “Tata group’s partnership with GE will help drive synergies in defense manufacturing and focus on innovation to support our armed forces.”
Tata also has military and aerospace joint ventures with U.S.-based Sikorsky Aircraft and Lockheed Martin, and Israel’s ELTA Systems.
“Tata group is a leader in the Indian defense and aerospace sector, and we look forward to working together to meet the growing demand for [fuel-efficient, turbofan] LEAP engines. Our collaboration in building innovative technologies will support the ‘Make in India’ vision of the Indian government,” said John L. Flannery, chairman and chief executive of GE.
India depends heavily on imports to meet its defense requirements and the government has been trying to attract investment from foreign companies to reduce this. According to government data, about 60% of the country’s defense equipment needs are met through imports.
In an interview the Nikkei Asian Review in November, Tata group patriach Ratan Tata pointed to aerospace and defense as key sectors for the future. He encouraged the group to build its presence in aerospace and foster partnerships with global majors to help make India a global manufacturing hub.
The group currently has eight companies involved in different defense areas — Tata Advanced Systems, Tata Consultancy Services, Tata Advanced Materials, Tata Motors, Titan, Tata Steel, TAL Manufacturing Solutions and Tata Power Strategic Engineering Division. However, media reports suggest the defense operations may be brought under one umbrella.
Ratan Tata, left, chairman of the Tata group, receives a flight certificate from pilot Mike Wallace after they flew the F/A-18 Super Hornet aircraft at Yelahanka air force station in the outskirts of Bangalore, on Feb. 10, 2011. © Reuters