General Atomics Aeronautical Systems (GA-ASI) has finalised an expression of interest (EOI) with India’s Hindustan Aeronautics (HAL) to provide support services for the MQ-9B aircraft’s turbo-propeller engines.

Under this collaborative effort to serve the Indian market, HAL will provide maintenance, repair and overhaul (MRO) services for the engines at its Engine and Industrial & Marine Gas Turbine (IMGT) division in Bengaluru, India.

According to GA-ASI, the turboprop engine equipped on the MQ-9B remotely piloted aircraft system (RPAS) has a unique configuration and operation, however, it looks similar to that of other commercial engines of this category.

The company said MQ-9B’s engine will require special training and equipment to fulfil MRO needs.

The EoI was exchanged between General Atomics Global chief executive Dr Vivek Lall and HAL Engines and IMGT division executive director Dr B Krishna Kumar.

It was signed in the presence of HAL chairman and managing director CB Ananthakrishnan and Bangalore Complex CEO Mihir Kanti Mishra.

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Ananthakrishnan said: “HAL has been manufacturing and providing MRO support for TPE 331-5 engines for the last 40 years. We are also establishing facilities for manufacturing TPE 331-12B engines for the HTT-40 project.

“The engine used on the MQ-9B RPAS belongs to the same family of engines with upgraded configuration to adapt to the RPAS technology.”

The collaboration will further boost the Indian Government’s ‘Atmanirbhar’ or ‘self-reliant’ initiative and strengthen industrial cooperation between Indian and US aerospace companies.

Dr Vivek Lall said: “HAL is the foremost Indian public sector aerospace and defence agency, and its vast experience in the domain of aero-engine technology makes it our natural partner in India.”