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The Gas Turbine Research Establishment (GTRE), a laboratory under the aegis of the Defense Research and Development Organisation (DRDO), has embarked on an ambitious journey to complete the development of the Dry Kaveri engine by the end of 2025 or early 2026. The Dry Kaveri engine, boasting a thrust of 46kN, holds immense promise for India’s aviation and defence sectors. GTRE aims to integrate the engine into a platform for in-flight testing, marking a critical milestone in its development.

In a significant step towards realizing this vision, DRDO signed a crucial deal with Godrej Aerospace in September 2022 to manufacture eight Kaveri engines. These engines will facilitate more trials, allowing the GTRE team to refine and fine-tune the engine’s performance before the planned completion of all tests by 2025.

To validate the engine’s combustion stability, multiple tests were conducted in India earlier this year, signalling substantial progress in its development journey. Further high-altitude tests of the Kaveri were reportedly carried out at Russia’s Baranov Central Institute of Aviation Motor Development in February 2023, adding to the engine’s credentials.

GTRE has made remarkable progress in addressing core issues, including noise concerns, that had posed challenges in the past. The laboratory has been using two of the older Kaveri engines to test modifications and changes. With core modifications now successfully implemented, the Dry Kaveri engine is poised to achieve new heights in performance and efficiency.

Godrej Aerospace, a key collaborator in this project, will manufacture the prototypes of the Dry Kaveri engine. These prototypes will be subjected to further in-flight trials on the Ilyushin Il-76 testbed in Russia, likely next year. Additionally, more ground-based testing for long-duration operations is planned to ensure the engine’s reliability and airworthiness.

Once the Dry Kaveri engine successfully clears both benchmarks of in-flight and ground-based testing, it will be eligible for airworthy certification by Indian authorities. This certification is critical for the engine’s application in actual aircraft. The Dry Kaveri engine is earmarked to power either older LCA-Tejas LSP aircraft or the Prototype of the Unmanned Combat Aerial Vehicle (UCAV) currently under development, further enhancing India’s indigenous defence capabilities.

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