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In a significant development, Dr. Samir V. Kamat, Secretary of Defence Research and Development (DD R&D) and Chairman of the Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO), has announced plans to integrate a Dry Kaveri engine derivative into the LCA-Tejas Trainer aircraft. This integration will serve as a crucial step in advancing India’s indigenous engine technology, though it is not intended as a replacement for the existing F-404 engines in operational fighter jets.

The integration of the Dry Kaveri engine derivative into the LCA-Tejas Trainer aircraft is part of a coordinated effort between DRDO and the Gas Turbine Research Establishment (GTRE). This initiative aims to utilize the trainer aircraft as a Flying Testbed, enabling extensive testing and refinement of the engine in real-flight conditions.

Two prototypes, designated PV-5 (KH-T2009) and PV-6 (KH-T2010), will be central to this testing phase. Originally developed to test the twin-seater variant of the LCA-Tejas Mk1 fighter jet, atleast one prototype is being repurposed to facilitate the integration and testing of the Dry Kaveri engine.

GTRE has already commenced receiving new batches of the Dry Kaveri engines, which have been specifically ordered for this testing program. These engines are scheduled for high-altitude trials, which are essential to assess their performance under varied and extreme conditions.

In parallel with the integration efforts, GTRE is also working on developing new afterburner modules for the Kaveri engine. The addition of these modules is expected to increase the combined thrust to approximately 73-75kN. Although this is slightly lower than the 84kN thrust generated by the current F-404 engines used in the LCA-Tejas Mk1, the advancements signify substantial progress in indigenous engine technology.

Dry Kaveri engine will be used to power Ghataak UCAVs a 13-ton Unmanned Strike Aircraft that ADE plans to develop to supplement India’s AMCA 5th generation fighter jet in Deep Strike missions in contested airspace.

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