Speaking on the news report that India is planning to replace AL-31-FP engine on its Sukhoi -30MKI fleet with a 125kn thrust class engine derivative from the basic Kaveri engine, Air Commodore KI Ravi, AVSM VSM (Retd) speaking to said that in his opinion, it is a sheer waste of time, and tax payer’s money in considering investment into the 125kn engine Kaveri for the Sukhoi-30MKI.

Air Commodore KI Ravi says that ” Russian philosophy of maintenance is so different from the western concept. Sukhoi design bureau as a part of their conceptual design to critical design review(cdr) and thereafter the prototype manufacture, followed by hours of flight testing AL-31-FPs, collected mapping of errors, corrective actions and then activating the feedback loop to make it a proven engine today “.

AL-31-FP does have its own share of problems related to heat related failures, material issues which are being resolved through discussions. if the problem persists, then India should consider upgrading this engine to a similar class of engines rather than to go for a different engine of a different manufacturer with a different maintenance philosophy.

125kn Kaveri engine would require at least 1000 hours of ground tests, Asmet and then Interphasing on the ground followed by flight trials. Significant changes in air frame rear fuselage and air intake and also to its internals to accommodate a new engine would be required.

Other Defence Analysts close to too agree that Russians have incorporated several safeguard mechanisms to protect their technology from unauthorised access which will not ensure a smooth transfer of engines and without Russian help, it will be nearly impossible to reconfigure Sukhoi 30MKI with new engines. Hence, trying to put a dream engine (125kn Kaveri), on an already flying combat aircraft(Su-30mki) with a proven engine (AL-31-FP), which is nothing short of making a strategic mistake.

Coming to the advanced medium combat aircraft (AMCA), the 125kn Kaveri engine should be considered and made a priority if the aircraft demands such thrust levels.

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