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Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL) has been working on a crucial indigenous project – the Hindustan Turbo Fan Engine (HTFE-25) for a while now. The HTFE-25 engine development program, which is entirely self-funded by HAL, has been progressing steadily. The engine’s design and development were initiated by HAL in 2013-14, with an ambitious timeline of completing it within six years. The company set its sights on developing a powerful and versatile engine that could be utilized in a wide range of aircraft configurations.

The HTFE-25 engine is designed to deliver a thrust of 25 kN, making it suitable for both single-engine and twin-engine aircraft. HAL envisions its application on aircraft weighing up to 5 tons in a single-engine configuration and up to 9 tons in a twin-engine setup.

However, despite the significant progress made in its development, HAL has encountered challenges that have slightly altered the original timeline. People familiar with the matter have revealed to that the completion of the engine’s development, originally planned for 2025, may be delayed due to a lack of specific platforms that it can be integrated with.

To address this issue, HAL has proposed the use of the HTFE-25 engine along with an afterburner module on the proposed Strike-optimized Unmanned Combat Aerial Vehicle (UCAV) under the Combat Air Teaming System (CATS). CATS is a unique Indian project, involving both manned and unmanned combat aircraft, developed by HAL in collaboration with an Indian private sector startup.

In a CATS promotional video, HAL showcased two UCAVs – the CATS Warrior, a light < 1-ton loyal wingman platform, and a larger platform designed for unmanned strike missions. Moreover, HAL has proposed the use of the HTFE-25 engine in a Jet-powered High-Altitude Long Endurance (HALE) Class UAV under the CATS program. If approved by the Indian Air Force (IAF), this UAV will undoubtedly benefit from the HTFE-25 engine’s cutting-edge capabilities.

Both the Proposed Strike-optimized UCAV Program and Jet-Powered HALE Program are yet to be cleared for development and these programs might progress once HAL starts delivering on Phase-I of the Combat Air Teaming System (CATS) program.

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