September 12, 2006:
India has taken another step to improve its ability to produce aircraft engines. India will now build the Russian RD-33 jet engine under license. While many Russian parts will be used, this deal will enable India, like China, to work its way into the exclusive club of nations capable of building jet engines. Russia will make $250 million out of this deal.
The RD-33 is a Cold War era design, created to power the MiG-29 fighter. But since the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991, Klimov, the manufacturer, has greatly improved the RD-33, and now the engine is basically built to Western standards. That, for example, can be seen in the 4,000 hour service life of the engine. At the end of the Cold War, RD-33 engines were lucky to last half that, and have far more reliability problems along the way.
Weighing 1.1 tons, the engine generates up to 20,000 pounds of thrust. The engine can be used in other fighters, like the French Mirage. India has made similar deals to produce other Russian jet engines, but the RD-33 is the most complex engine design so far to be built in India.