BHEL, GE partner to build propulsion system for indigenous aircraft carrier - Broadsword by Ajai Shukla - Strategy. Economics. Defence.

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Thursday 28 April 2022

BHEL, GE partner to build propulsion system for indigenous aircraft carrier

INS Vikramaditya, the Russian-origin aircraft carrier that is the first of three carriers the Indian Navy wants to have in the fleet


By Ajai Shukla

Business Standard, 29th Apr 22


Bharat Heavy Electricals Limited (BHEL) and GE Power Conversion on Thursday signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) that will boost the indigenous company’s capability for developing an Integrated Full Electric Propulsion System to power Indian Navy warships.   


The MoU was signed in New Delhi in the presence of the UK’s Minister of Defence Procurement Jeremy Quin, British High Commissioner to India, Alex Ellis, and officials from the MoD, GE Power Conversion and BHEL.


GE Power Conversion is a world leader in electric propulsion. Its equipment is installed on some of the latest platforms of the US Navy and the Royal Navy, including the Queen Elizabeth class of aircraft carriers.


The Indian Navy is considering building a second indigenous aircraft carrier, referred to as IAC-2, to add to the combat capability already provided by two carriers: a Russian one called INS Vikramaditya and an indigenous carrier, soon to be commissioned, called INS Vikrant.


With IAC-2 likely to be similar in size and combat power to two existing Royal Navy carriers – HMS Queen Elizabeth and HMS Prince of Wales – a British-French consortium is offering to provide the power system for IAC-2.


With India unable to build a nuclear propulsion system for IAC-2, the British-French consortium, designated the “Power and Propulsion Sub-Alliance” in the construction of the two Royal Navy carriers, is offering India an “Integrated Full Electric Propulsion System.”


This will include two Rolls-Royce MT30 gas turbines and an alternator supplied by GE Energy, and two Rolls-Royce propellers. The alliance between GE and BHEL is expected to build the alternator in India.


Last Friday, Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his UK counterpart Boris Johnson announced the establishment of a “Joint Working Group” on India-UK Electric Propulsion Capability Partnership with the goal of fostering military and industrial collaboration in maritime electric propulsion systems.


Welcoming the MoU, Jeremy Quin said: “GE Power Conversion was integral to an industry-government partnership which developed the UK’s world-leading electric propulsion capability currently in operation with our Royal Navy’s destroyer and aircraft carrier fleets. With proven ability to support India’s frontline ships, BHEL is a perfect partner for this endeavour.” 


According to a Ministry of Defence (MoD) press release on Thursday, “With the signing of the MoU, the expertise and facilities of GE Power Conversion and BHEL can be leveraged for quick induction of this advanced technology.”


“GE’s powerful electrical networks are capable of supporting a ship’s energy requirements, including propulsion, high-power sensors, service loads and pulse power for defence systems. GE’s naval technologies are proven on naval applications from 3MW to 110MW, including naval electric motors and generators, switchboards, power converters, power management and automation and control systems,” said GE.


With decades of experience and a deep understanding of naval requirements and standards, GE Power Conversion claims it has the capability to provide integrated solutions for design, integration, installation, and life cycle support of electric propulsion systems. 


These are expected to be passed on to BHEL, a central public sector undertaking that has been a supplier of critical equipment and services in the defence and aerospace sector for over three decades. 

1 comment:

  1. While it’s no doubt a good move - somewhat on the lines English Electrics tie up with BHEL in the late sixties for manufacturing main turbines for Leander Class - for the project to actually take off there has to be firm commitment of funding and “identified end user” as these things are very high cost and high tech systems with very few end users ! Therefore the Govt has to accord approval for IAC 2 (which has been hanging due to difference of opinion) and commit funding for any tangible progress to be made in this MOU ! Else it will be a non starter like many other MOUs signed with good intentions because no private company (British/French in this case) would invest any money if there is no clarity on funding and the end result. At best there could be exchange of a few visits and preliminary discussions.. In the case of English Electrics tie up with BHEL in late sixties order for Leander Class Frigates had already been placed on MDL and construction had also commenced - so funding and expected outcomes were pretty clear right from the beginning.

    except perhaps a few visits and preliminary discussions.. That’s the big difference between the present case and earlier ones..


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