Why lack of Progress in Kaveri engine Should be a major concern for IAF
Dr. S Christopher, Previous Chairman of the Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) in 2017 edition of Aero India had announced that Indigenously developed Kaveri engine developed by its associated lab Gas Turbine Research Establishment (GTRE), will power an LCA-Tejas Prototype by 2019 edition of Aero India.
Many back then had questioned the viability of having a workable Kaveri engine in a such a short period of time even though it was officially known at that time that Safran, a French company which manufactures engines for Rafale combat jets had become the technical consultant for the GTRE to help fix issues with the Kaveri engine.
Last update on the program was that the Safran which carried out the technical audit of the program has cleared the Kaveri engine for integration into LCA-Tejas aircraft to carry out limited flight envelope trials before that GTRE is required to clear Kaveri Engine in High-Altitude Trials for that it will be heading to overseas High-Altitude Test Facilities and in 2017, Kaveri engine was tested for 155 hours in endurance mode.
Now it’s appearing that DRDO is developing the engine on its own with no foreign power ready to part with hot engine technology under reasonable term. and also at recently concluded Aero India 2019, It was more or less confirmed, quietly by everyone at GTRE Stall, that plans to develop a new engine based on Kaveri engine is more or less over and India will not be pursuing co-development offer from France anymore.
Ex-HAL employees explained to me that, India needs not only ground facilities and infrastructure push but also Public-Private Consortium of companies who can collaborate and can join hands. India decades ago lacked in indigenous aircraft program but, now India is aggressively pursuing the development of military jets to indigenous regional airline and helicopter program which will require to push for multiple engine programs and will have to pool in all the resources it can to achieve its goals.
Many Private aerospace companies have initiated smaller engine developments for in use for UAVs and missile with their own funding’s and will require the support of the government if we want them to make it big in this sector. Imported Engines alone make up nearly 25-30% of the cost of the product in each aircraft we produce and no matter what is the level of Transfer of Technology of this engines, they will always affect their export rights.
If the Kaveri programme has given up its ghost, it will be the second time that project has been shut down. In 2014, it was given a burial, only to be revived later. If the LCA has to be a success, the development of Kaveri is critical.
The import of GE 414 is no answer to LCA’s engine requirement, unless it involves full technology transfer, which is unrealistic. The LCA, given its design needs a very powerful engine. Imports are costly and dependence on suppliers is unadvisable.Kaveri engines are important for Indian Air Force to replace currently American supplied GE’s Engines to reduce its dependency on imported engines and also ensure that it is not affected by sanctions or lack of supplies in case of war to around 200+ LCA-Tejas aircraft.
Source- Former Jaguar Pilot Vijainder K Thakur!/ AMCA Facebook Page