SOURCE: DIGAMBAR THAKUR / FOR MY TAKE / IDRW.ORG
A report prepared by Deputy Editor Manu Pubby for ” The Print ” suggests that India and France recently held discussions to develop a new Kaveri engine which will be able to generate 125Kn Thrust levels to replace current AL-31F engines on 272 Sukhoi-30MKI fighter jets. India and France are already engaged in the development of a 90kN Thrust level engine which will be ready by 2019 based on India’s Kaveri K9 prototype engine. New 90kN Kaveri mostly likely will be used in India’s Tejas MK-1A to replace American GE supplied F404-GE-IN20 after burning engines.
90kN Kaveri will be mated into retired Tejas PV-1 air-frame to used as a flying test bed for the engine, 18 months turn around time and fast tracked testing once commenced will allow, India and France to a put 90kN Kaveri into production in next 5 years and will enter into Tejas MK-1A in later batches and will replace American engines in older batches once production line stabilizes . India also plans to develop a 51kN Dry thrust version of the engine to be used on India’s Ghatak UCAV Project.
GTRE a few years back had held talks with French Snecma on possible development of new K10 engine using a new Rafales M-88 core to develop a 99kN thrust engine which could power both Tejas MK-2 and AMCA fighter jets but talks failed to materialise into a collaboration but since then Tejas MK-2 has gone cold and AMCA Project came up with engine requirement of 110kN thrust class engine after Developers wanted to keep additional 10kN thrust as safety measure but 125kN Kaveri could be an attempt to kill two birds with one stone .
AL-31F engines on Sukhoi-30MKI fighter jets will save India from the exorbitant amount of money which India needs to pay to Russia for Transfer of Technology license agreement for developing AL-31F engines in India and also to remove the problematic engine it self which keeps the operational availability of the entire Sukhoi-30MKI fleet lower than 65% in Indian air force.
India’s 5th Generation AMCA fighter jet project required specific tailored made 110kN thrust engine which was not easy to find since turbojet afterburning engines available in the market are not in that specific class of thrust which India wanted and could have required collaboration with International OEMs like GE or Safran to uprate their existing lineup and it was also realised that 110kN thrust class engine powered AMCA was able to Supercruise and meet Air Staff Requirements (ASR) issued by Indian Air force but development of Naval-AMCA and to meet carrier borne operations duties from an aircraft carrier, Naval-AMCA could be heavier than Air force version and 110kN thrust class engine could have lead to fall in performance for Carrier based Naval AMCA and this could be the biggest reason why India is keen on developing a new 125kN Kaveri engine .
Initial AMCA Prototypes will be powered by Ge supplied F-414INS6 engine which generates a 99kN thrust before being replaced by a 125kN Kaveri engine before it hits production. if Air force AMCA variant is able to meet ASR issued by Indian air force then IAF should be completely ok with a more power full engine and Since Navy is already having a discussion with developers of AMCA and DRDO it can be assumed that new engine requirement might have been due to Navy joining the AMCA Project.
125kN Kaveri engine will not be plug and play for Sukhoi-30MKI and will require certain modifications and changes to the airframe as well as to the engine itself, for that India might require Russian help but if Russia does refuse to help or asks for hefty amount of money then HAL and DRDO along with French will be able to replace this engines on their own just like how Chinese have been experimenting with their WS-Series of afterburning engines on their Sukhoi-27/30 and their Copies .
India somewhat is trying to replicate what China has done with in its engine development, one is to replace Russian sourced engines with locally copied engines, where locally developed WS-13 Taishan engine (86kN-90kN) will replace Klimov RD-93 turbofan (81.3 kN-98 kN ) and Shenyang WS-10 (120–140kn) will replace AL-31 series of engines (123-145 kN) for single and twin engine requirements .
off course India’s 90kN Kaveri and 125kN Kaveri engine will not be based on Russian technology nor illegal copies of them but will be based on Indian and western technology which will allow India to use them on other future projects if and when required. like China, if India is successful in the development of both 90kN Kaveri and 125kN Kaveri engine technology, then it will be able to uprated or down-rated this engines to meet its requirements, a 51kN derivative engine for UCAVs from 90kN Kaveri engine and may be even a 130-140kN high-bypass turbofan derivative of 125kN Kaveri engine for the future Transport aircraft project perhaps .