Source : Indian Defence Analysis
|Kaveri engine dry variant (File Photo)|
Aero-engine is considered as one of the key areas for India’s aspirations of achieving self-reliance in the defence sector. It is one of the most complex technologies to develop as it requires various metallurgical challenges that needs expertise as well as experience. The extremely high rotation of turbine blades & extreme temperature of the core tests the reliability of alloys. The GTRE’s Kavery Engine program was sanctioned in 1989 with objective to power the LCA Tejas fighter jet. The aim was to develop low bypass twin spool turbo fan engine of 80 kN thrust class with after burner. However, there were two challenges – due to lack of experience in the development of low bypass engine, the Kaveri was not ready on time. Further the power requirement of LCA was also increased due to its increased weight. GTRE Kaveri was officially delinked from the Tejas programme in September 2008. The programme was abandoned in 2014.
As per the CAG report of 2011 – “GTRE has been unable to deliver an engine that could power the LCA despite a cost overrun of 642 per cent and a delay of about 13 years”. GTRE defended the delays with non-availability of state-of-the-art wind tunnel in India, and US technology restrictions.
While GTRE was not able to achieve the increased thrust requirement, there has been significant learning in the first attempt of the development of low bypass turbo fan engine. Till now, 9 Full prototype engines and 4 core engines have been built. Total 3217 hours of engine testing has been conducted.
Status of Kaveri Engine program
As we have already reported before, the GTE Kaveri has been able to achieve wet thrust of 70.4 kN and dry thrust of 46kN against the desired ‘wet thrust’ of 81 kilo-newton (kN).
The core of the Kaveri engine without after burner section has been stable and various past issue related to the core of the engine has been fixed. It has met its dry thrust requirement of 46kN; however, it is yet to be certified.
GTRE has planned the Performance and operability of Kaveri engine across the flight envelop in altitude test facility in 2022. The initial flight release (IFR) certification of the engine is planned to be completed by 2024. Once the Dry Kaveri Engine is certified, GTRE may began the work on an upgraded Jet engine with a new afterburner.
High Altitude trials of Kaveri Engine
As per the latest update from DefenceExpo 2022, the dry Kaveri engine has been sent to Russia for high altitude trials. Once the high-altitude trials are complete it will be integrated with a flying test bed based on IL-76 platform. These two steps are extremely crucial for the certification of Kaveri engine. Once the dry Kaveri engine is certified, it will be used to power Ghatak UCAV.
Recently, Defence Reach has reported that Kaveri Dry Engine has successfully completed its high-altitude trials at the Russian facility where it was tested for various speed, thrust and pressure. The engine was simulated to achieve 46-48.5 kN of thrust. This is an important achievement in the engine development program of dry Kavery to be followed by structural tests & certification.
Recently, Godrej has won the contract from GTRE to manufacture all 8 modules of 6 Dry Kavery engine. The first engine will be delivered by late 2024. All 6 engines are slated to be delivered by August 2025. These engines will further used for certification for its fly worthiness.