Need for Marine Gas Turbine Engine
Currently most of the Indian Navy’s warship uses the marine gas turbines from Ukraine’s Zorya as their primary source of propulsion. These warships include Veer class missile corvettes, surviving Rajput class destroyers, Delhi Class destroyers, Talwar Class frigates and newly commissioned Visakhapatnam class destroyers.
Four more Talwar class frigates of Russian design are under construction at shipyards in Russia and Goa, also use engines from the Zorya facility. To power all these warships, Indian Navy needs more than 130 marine gas turbine engines and few spare turbines. Besides, Navy is also going to face problem in overhauling or regular maintenance of these engines. Usually, a gas turbine is overhauled after running for close to 30,000 hours.
Apart from the Ukrainian engine, Indian Navy heavily relies on the General Electric (GE) LM2500 marine gas turbine. The engine is integrated with indigenous aircraft carrier, INS Vikrant, 3 Shivalik-class frigates, 7 stealth frigates being built under Project 17A.
BHEL & Bharat Forge working on MGT Engine
Now, Indian Navy is expediting the development of indigenous Marine gas turbine engine. As per reports from ET, Bharat Heavy Electricals Limited (BHEL) and Bharat Forge are among the companies that have been individually consulted for developing and supplying the MGT engine suited to the Indian Navy’s needs. Some inputs have also been provided by the Indian Navy to BHEL to aid the development of equipment and spares.
GTRE MGT Engine
However, this is not the first time MGT engine development is being undertaken in the country. Nearly 15 years ago, In July 2008, DRDO had tested a 12 MW marine gas turbine. The engine was installed on to the Marine Gas Turbine test bed at Indian Navy Facility in Visakhapatnam. The engine has been tested to its potential of 12 MW at ISA SL 35°C condition, which is the requirement of Indian Navy for propelling the SNF (Rajput) class of ships. The engine was developed using the core of the Kaveri engine. The base frame for this was developed by Larsen & Toubro (L&T).
GTRE has added low-pressure compressor and turbine as a gas generator and designed a free power turbine to generate shaft power for the maritime application. The engine has been named as Kaveri Marine Gas Turbine (KMGT).
Ironically, even after 15 years of demonstrating the Marine engine capability India has not been able to field its production ready marine engine which could power the Indian Navy warships. The government back then did not show confidence on the Kaveri’s marine engine and preferred to go for completely imported engine.
While the 12 MW KMGT may not be sufficient to power bigger warships, but it can power small vessels with displacement of up to 2500 tons.
Marine Engine in 4 years – Navy Chief
In March 2023, the Indian Navy Chief Admiral R. Hari Kumar has also said to The Hindu that the Navy had got a sanction for the design and development of a diesel engine for maritime purposes, and it was expected to be ready in four years. Navy is working on making gas turbines generators and subsequently gas turbines.
As per Navy Chief: “We don’t make diesel engines of the requisite maritime specifications. We have been making it earlier, but it has been under licence. Now we have taken up a case for making a diesel engine of the requisite capacity designed and developed in India, that has already been sanctioned and we hope it will materialize in about four years.”
The Navy Chief has earlier pledged that the Navy would be fully self-reliant by 2047. The ship construction consisted of three parts. In these parts the current.
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