Why India Is Still Struggling To Make A Jet Engine ?

India is one of the largest buyers in the global arms market, including warplanes. But in recent years, the present Govt. has been actively working to strengthen our own military industry.

Jet engines are one of the most challenging and complex machines ever made. Imagine a blade rotating at 35000 rpm in a temperature of 1200 C and also with standing all kinds of mechanical and aerodynamic stress. Such complexity has resulted in only 5–6 companies having a know who to do it correctly.

Indian planes need Indian engine

jet engine

India pays special attention to the retooling and rearmament of its Air Force fleet. India policy is clear: the country borders two hostile states, China and Pakistan, with the latter breaking out of armed conflicts. Fighter aircraft play a major role in Ensuring India’s defence capability, but light fighter jets used by the air force are gradually becoming obsolete.

In addition to purchasing the latest generation of fighter jets abroad, the production of its own aircraft is a way out of this situation. The Indian multirole fighter program was launched back in 1983, but the first flight of tejas light multirole fighter took place only in 2001, and the contract for the supply of the Indian Air Force’s first 40 serial aircraft HAL Tejas was signed only in 2012.

Of course, as many experts note, Tejas is almost in every respect inferior to modern fighters produced in the United States, Europe or Russia. Nevertheless, the Indian leadership is not going to stop work on further improvement of its own aircraft, which does not cancel the purchase of foreign-made fighter jets. However, the prospect of further production of its own aircraft is related to the development of Indian jet engines.

Long tests of the Kaveri jet engine

kaveri engine
kaveri engine dry and wet thrust testing

Back in 2010, ten years ago, in Russia, the Kaveri Indian-made kaveri jet engine was tested in the suburbs of Shchukovskiy. The tests were carried out on the basis of the Transport Aircraft Il-76, to which the engine was attached. The Kaveri engine was developed by the Gas Turbine Research Institute (GTRE) commissioned by the Organization for Defence Research and Development (DRDO).

The Kaveri is a two-part turbojet jet engine. But despite more than thirty years of development history, the engine has not yet been brought to mind. In 2015, noises were detected at full thrust during tests, and for a long time engineers could not answer the question about the origin of noise. Outbreaks were also detected in the fast-and-running mode, indicating problems with the fuel supply system.

Then it was decided to use the Kaveri engine in unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs), but this did not solve the problem of lack of own jet engine for fighters. Moreover, in India there is a huge demand for jet engines.

Kaveri current situation

An overview of the Kaveri situation was provided by the GTRE director, T. Mohan Rao

1- He pointed out the major factor in delays being them not being given enough infrastructure and testing facilities – Govt has not given funds, babus have sat on them. Instead, they have had to go to CIAM in Russia and Anecom in Germany for tests

2- He mentioned 4 key areas where we lack

  • BLISK – integrated single Blade and Disk
  • Single Crystal blades – he categorically said – We do not have that tech at all.
  • Thermal Barrier Coatings – TBC – very critical for high temp engine operation. A talk on this by an American Indian prof attracted a house full audience. He mentioned that this is highly critical and export controlled, so they dont have it.
  • In recent times the engine has been able to produce thrust of 70-75 Kilo Newton but what the IAF and other stake-holders desire is power between 90—95 KN

Mohan Rao appealed that people should realize that this tech takes time and money and more importantly, willpower and support…. its not being given by foriegn nations so if we have to develop it needs support,all though he said that We have a functional engine, but there is a slight shortfall in performance. It has achieved dry thrust of 4,600kg and reheat thrust of 7,000kg in Bangalore, which is around 3,000ft above sea level. So, it would be around 5,000kg dry thrust and 7,500kg reheat thrust at sea level. The engine is short of thrust by 400kg and overweight by around 150kg. Also, we still have to perform long- endurance tests of the engine to run for many hours


  1. Govt must come out of audit angle for R&D efforts. It thwarts progress. We had experienced this hurdle while indigineizing a high tech project for MoD. Scientists became nervous with audit remarks n left the organization n the effort was left to die.

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