SOURCE: AMIT PANDEY/ FOR MY TAKE / IDRW.ORG
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.
Even though Kaveri engine program has been delinked from the LCA-Tejas program for almost a decade now, Kaveri Engine is still vital for the Indian Aerospace program like country’s first stealth “Ghatak” combat drone which will be powered by a Dry version of the Kaveri engine and is supposed to make its first flight before AMCA Program due to greater urgency shown to the unmanned combat aerial vehicle (UCAV) program by the air force.
Safran, French engine maker was supposed to contribute about Rs 500- 600 crore as part of work offset of the 36 Rafale purchase and also ensure certification of engines within 18 months after approved by the Indian government is yet to officially deliver on timeline promised nor has made any Investment of funds and Transfer of technology as promised .
Dry Kaveri is important for Ghatak UCAV program and Upgraded 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.