Kaveri engine
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After several setbacks India re-launched the Kaveri jet engine project


After several setbacks and delays, India re-launched the Kaveri jet engine project.

The development of a jet engine for aircraft is a major milestone in the history of aviation. Now the Cauvery engine project in India is getting a clear picture. It was launched to power the Tejas fighter plane. But it failed to meet expectations. Against this backdrop, Tejas was flown using US GE aviation engines and is still used today.

The domestic aircraft engine was scheduled for production in 1985. The Defense Research Development Organization (DRDO) assigned the work to the Gas Turbine Research Establishment. But the company had little experience in engine making. Tejas flew three decades later in the wake of the delay.

These Tejas are regarded as the lightest multirole fighter aircraft in the entire world and are said to be the future of the Indian Air Force. But the proposed aircraft engine is poorly developed. Against this backdrop, the country is now relying on foreign engine manufacturers to power Tejas.

GTX-35VS Kaveri engine
GTX-35VS Kaveri engine

“The Kaveri engine project has suffered many setbacks since its inception. Financial backing from the government is important. The Kaveri engine project was launched in 1985 but still has no results.

The jet engine is a compact gas turbine that produces the energy needed to fly the aircraft. The engine is made from five critical parts. These include Fan, Compressor, Combustion, Turbine, Mixer, and Nozzle. If the fan is going to absorb air, the air is compressed and transmitted through the turbine with the help of fuel and electric spark. It then flows through the turbine and explodes through the nozzle, that is, the nozzle. The energy pressure produced is pushed back. This gives the plane forward movement.

The tension produced here is so powerful that ordinary metals are unable to withstand the heat. This complaint is filed in the early days of engine development. The engine began to eject crystal blades. He explained that a special metal is needed to withstand the heat for about 6000 hours.

Kaveri engine RP model
Kaveri engine RP model

DRDO had planned 17 models for the Kaveri Engine. The first test of the Kaveri model was carried out in 1996 and ground tests were conducted in 1998. Then in 1999, it was time for a test flight. However, for some technical reasons, this test was not possible. In 2003, the Aeronautical Development Agency contracted with General electrics to supply 17 F404-IN20 engines for light combat aircraft. The Kaveri engine failed a high-altitude test in Russia. This ended the India homemade engine project.

Success of Kaveri engine

The Kaveri engine project was not a complete failure. GTRE developed eight models and four core engines. Passed the Altitude test in 2010 with the help of the Russian Central Institute of Aviation Motors (CIAM). According to DRDO, Kaveri engine performance has been tested at various altitudes. According to the DRDO, a flight test has been conducted at the Russian Gromov with this engine for over an hour at an altitude of 6000 meters (20,000 feet). This year DRDO developed single crystal blades and essential components. Only a few countries have achieved such a feat.

Kaveri jet engine
Kaveri jet engine equipped with IL-76 transport aircraft during an test in Russia

Even after 36 years, there are several setbacks to domestic engine development. The main reason for this is the lack of a DRDO project. It is reluctant to admit problems with engine development. However, during the initial days, only victims of this was LCA Tejas but noe because the delays in engine development Indian aviation industry facing difficulty in upcoming aircraft project like Tejas mk2, TEDBF, AMCA, etc.

Kaveri engine
Kaveri engine

Earlier both DRDO and GOVT of India were hesitant to involve any foreign company until the problem escalated. In 2010, the Ministry of Defense made it clear that the lack of critical equipment and products, technology complexities, zero testing facilities, and lack of skilled personnel were the main reasons for the delay. The ministry noted that the DRDO is in the dark as countries with technology refuse to make an agreement with the DRDO. This delay is still causing the country a loss. HAL has signed a $ 716 million (5000 crores) deal to buy 99 GE engines for Tejas.

LCA Tejas
LCA Tejas

To increase the hardship, the Comptroller Auditor General of India reported that $ 265.3 million was spent as of 2010-11 alone. But, the plan failed. As such, the engine weighs 1235kg instead of the 1100kg specified. Abandoned and revived. The DRDO abandoned the project in November 2014 after a number of criticisms, but the project was revived after France began jointly developing the engine. However, the proposal was backed by a refusal to transfer French technology. Several countries have come forward to develop jet engines with India as a result of their interest in buying more fighter jets from the Indian Air Force under the MMR CA.

The IAF is fast-pacing the local stealth aircraft AMCA. The DR DOO does not want to repeat its past mistake. It is against this backdrop that AMCA is interested in powering with a local engine. As a result, the firm is now looking forward to partnering with a foreign firm. Aviation Giant Rolls Royce is at the forefront of the partnership. The Russians are also interested. Jet engine development is a complex technology. Many countries that are embarking on an ambitious project, such as China, Korea, and Iran, are struggling. Because this project requires the support of a sophisticated research team, funding, and skilled manpower.

After a continuous effort by the silver lining, India’s jet engine project has made some progress. The engine is capable of producing 75K of Newtonian thrust. However, the LCA requires 90K and the AMCA 110K thrust. A project with Rolls-Royce has raised hopes of meeting these. India is emerging as the country’s global hub for defense aviation. The development of the domestic jet engine is being emphasized here. The initiatives of the Central Government’s Make in India and Atmanibhar Bharat can have a positive impact here.


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