The State-owned aerospace and defense company, Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL) which is testing and developing HTFE-25 (Hindustan Turbo Fan Engine ), a 25 kN thrust-class turbofan engine to power the indigenous Intermediate Jet Trainer (IJT) once it completes its Spin Trials, has now officially proposed to develop a reheated derivative after certification of HTFE-25, called “HTFE-40” to be used as a new powerplant for the aging Jaguar Strike aircraft.

In March last year, HAL has taken up the design and development of ‘Afterburner Technology’ for the HTFE-25 aero engine. The afterburner module was mounted on the PTAE engine followed by a successful demonstration of the basic afterburner technology using a fixed area propelling nozzle for the HTFE-25 engine was also carried out.

But for the development of HTFE-40, a 40 kN thrust-class turbofan engine, HAL has sought funding from the Indian Air Force (IAF) and order commitments to be used as a new engine for the underpowered Jaguar Strike aircraft which IAF plans to keep in active service till 2034. HTFE-25 aero engine has been developed by HAL using its Internal funding in hope that it will eventually replace the Russian AL-55 turbofan engine manufactured by NPO Saturn in the production variants of IJTs if it can clear Spin trials and can secure an order from IAF after facing 14-year delays.

” Development and testing of HTFE-40 turbofan engine could require another 5 years and won’t be commercially attractive unless IAF further plans to give service extension to the Jaguar Strike fleet beyond 2040,” said Defence analysts Ranesh Rajan. ” DRDO’s associate lab GTRE is already working on the development of Dry Kaveri engine Core that will be producing a 50kN thrust-class turbofan engine for India’s Ghatak UCAV Program, if IAF still plans to re-engine the Jaguar fleet then Dry-Kaveri should be considered rather then funding a separate (HTFE-40) program” opinionated Defence analysts Ranesh Rajan.

IAF plans to keep DARIN-III Upgraded Jaguar fighter jets in Active service till 2034 after serving India for 55 years in 2034. IAF already has procured retired airframes from France and Qatar to keep the current fleet active after it was retired by all its current operators. Due to the underpowered Rolls-Royce Adour 811 engines, the aircraft is unable to perform at optimal operational levels in hot-humid conditions of India and the aircraft is also facing spares issues due to the closing of the life support service by the OEM.

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