New Delhi: The government on Friday said it is exploring collaboration with a foreign defence major for co-production of engines for a medium combat aircraft.

India is working on an ambitious USD 5 billion project to develop the fifth-generation Advanced Medium Combat Aircraft (AMCA).

"Indigenous capability exists with DRDO and Indian industries for design, development and manufacturing of 80kN combat jet engine," Minister of State for Defence Ajay Bhatt said in Lok Sabha.

He was replying to a question.

"Collaboration with a foreign engine house is being explored for co-development and co-production of the higher class thrust engines for AMCA," he said.

"The cost including technology transfer for manufacturing the jet engine can be known after further progress," Bhatt added.

India's confidence for the development of the AMCA saw a significant jump after the development of the Light Combat Aircraft (LCA) TEJAS.

Manufactured by state-run aerospace behemoth Hindustan Aeronautics Ltd (HAL), the TEJAS aircraft is a potent platform for air combat and offensive air support missions while reconnaissance and anti-ship operations are its secondary roles.

In February last year, the defence ministry sealed a ₹ 48,000 crore deal with HAL for procurement of 83 LCA TEJAS fighter aircraft for the Indian Air Force (IAF).

To another question on whether the government proposes to revamp the Sahayaks system, Bhatt said "no".

Sahayaks in the Indian Army are soldiers and their duties include protecting the officers, maintaining their weapons and equipment and helping them in carrying out their responsibilities.

Sahayaks are also known as "buddies".

"In the Indian Army, a buddy has clearly defined military duties and forms an integral part of the organisation structure of a unit and has specific functions during war and peace," Bhatt said.

"During operations in the field areas, he and the officer / JCO (junior commissioned officer) act as buddies in arms," he said.

"One covers the movement of the other buddy and protects him in operations where support has to be total, whether mental or physical or moral," Bhatt added.