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India and the United States are making progress towards a deal for the Transfer of Technology (ToT) of the F414 engine, which will be locally manufactured in India. This engine is intended for India’s Tejas MkII program and is also planned to be used on the upcoming TEDBF and AMCA fighter jets. Despite this, India remains committed to developing its indigenous Kaveri engine, which has been under development for the past three years.

The Kaveri engine is set to be reborn as the Dry Kaveri. Recent tests conducted at high-altitude facilities in Russia have demonstrated a thrust of 48 kN, although the production variant will be capped at 46 kN. The Dry Kaveri engine will power India’s upcoming Stealth Unmanned Combat Aerial Vehicle (UCAV) program, with plans to develop an improved variant for the Tejas Mk1 program as well.

Once the Dry Kaveri engine is coupled with an afterburner module, it will be capable of generating a thrust of 73-76 kN. This puts the engine in the same league as the French M-88 engine that powers the Dassault Rafale fighter jets. However, the Gas Turbine Research Establishment (GTRE) intends to develop a significantly improved core for the Kaveri engine that can withstand higher temperatures. This will allow it to achieve a dry thrust of 55-60 kN and a wet thrust of 85-90 kN, making it a potential alternative engine for the Tejas Mk1A program in the future, potentially replacing the American F404 engines.

GTRE is eager to develop an enhanced Dry Kaveri engine with an improved core that can generate higher thrust. However, this may require additional funding. The Ministry of Defence (MoD) has requested GTRE to first complete the Dry Kaveri engine program for the UCAV in its current specification before moving forward with the development of an improved variant.

Limited-scale production of the Dry Kaveri engine has already begun, and four engines are set to be delivered from 2025 onwards for further testing. GTRE officials claim that this testing phase will culminate in the final certification of the engine, ensuring it meets the necessary airworthiness standards before being integrated into the UCAV program.

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