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India’s quest for indigenous jet engine technology leaps forward with the planned integration of the Dry Kaveri engine with an afterburner section on the LCA-Tejas fighter jet. This technological demonstrator marks a significant step towards the development of the Kaveri 2.0 engine, aiming to replace imported engines on future Tejas variants.

The current Dry Kaveri engine falls short of powering advanced fighter jets due to its thrust, necessitating the afterburner addition for testing. Achieving the target 73-75kN thrust in this configuration is crucial for securing funds and launching the Kaveri 2.0 program. This upgraded engine, designed to deliver 95-99kN thrust, could potentially replace the F-404 and F-414 engines currently powering the Tejas Mk1A and Mk2 models.

DRDO’s Gas Turbine Research Establishment (GTRE) plans to integrate and test the enhanced Kaveri engine on an older Tejas prototype within the next 3-to 4 years. This demonstrator will serve as a platform to validate key technologies and pave the way for government and Indian Air Force (IAF) involvement in the Kaveri 2.0 program.

While official announcements regarding Kaveri 2.0 are yet to be made, sources suggest a multi-pronged approach. The Dry Kaveri Derivative engine powering the Remotely Piloted Strike Aircraft (RPSA) Ghatak UCAV program will provide valuable data and experience. Additionally, research and development will focus on enhancing the core engine to achieve the desired thrust, potentially making it a viable alternative to F414 engines within the next decade.

Developing a high-performance jet engine is a complex and time-consuming endeavor. Funding, technical hurdles, and potential delays remain challenges. However, success in this endeavor would provide India with strategic autonomy and significantly reduce dependence on foreign suppliers, boosting its indigenous aerospace capabilities.

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