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SOURCE: SATYAJEET KUMAR/ FOR MY TAKE / IDRW.ORG

It seems India and France have decided to go for the development of a 125kN Thrust class engine instead of 110kN. India looks like wants to kill two birds with one stone and compensate for the drop in thrust range of 10-15% that every turbofan engine faces in Indian dry-humid conditions. While there remains some confusion if the Indo-French engine will be 110kN class or 125 class but what is clear is that DRDO already had plans to develop a 125kN uprated engine based on the 110kN for the future project that is still not clear off.

Not so long ago, DRDO and GTRE had proposed the development of an uprated engine that will replace the AL-31FP (122.6 kN) engines that are used to power the Su-30MKI fleet. IAF wants to upgrade 150 Su-30s as part of its MLU modernization package but the Russians opposed any such moves by India and instead offered its AL-41F-1S (142 kN) as part of the “Super Sukhoi ” upgrade package that is also been implemented on the Russian Su-30SM fleet to maintain commonality with the Su-35 fleet.

Indo-French companies are confident that a workable 125kN engine will be ready for flight tests in less than 7 years and ready to enter production in the 9th year since the time of signing of the contract between both countries that is likely to take place sometime later this year as negotiations are in the final rounds. DRDO has confirmed that a new engine will also be used on TEDBF and Tejas Mk2 program if it is indeed 125kN engine, AMCA with 25-ton All up weight (AUW) will have trust to weight ratio of 1, which is unseen in any 25-ton aircraft but it also emphases that this new engine will be built around to work much better in Indian conditions and the same engine in un-dusty and cooler conditions will act like a 143kN engine.

125kN engine makes sense if AMCA Mk2 or Mk3 that is planned to be over 25-ton AUW and somewhere close to 28-30tons in AUW and additional engine thrust has been calculated keeping in mind the future increase in capabilities and AUW. It is also possible that DRDO-IAF agreed to use a 125kN engine as a common type engine for all its future fleet that includes upgraded Su-30MKI, AMCA Mk2, Tejas Mk2, and TEDBF for Navy so to make the whole project viable and profitable to the companies that will be involved in the program and also meet the minimum unit requirement to break-even.

What is still not clear is if the 125kN engine will be based on the old M88-4 Eco concepts that could have bumped up the present wet thrust of the baseline M88 engine from 75kN to 122-130kN or it entirely will be a new engine since reduced radar signature, improved heat management, and climatization to Indian conditions are some of the requirements that India won’t compromise on and with all certainty, it will be hybrid of old and new technology.

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Article by SATYAJEET KUMAR ,  cannot be republished Partially or Full without consent from Writer or idrw.org