In the latest news update on the Kaveri Engine, DRDO has asked the government for an extension and more funds to solve new issues which have cropped up in the latest phase of flight tests. According to top sources, the extension involves at least 120 hours of additional flight testing. The engine is presently being tested out on an Ilyushin-76 engine test bed aircraft at the Gromov institute in Russia, which as reported earlier will re-start the test in march this year.
The engine has completed around 55 hours of flight-testing at the Gromov institute, the highlight of which was the use of a fully indigenous FADEC. The flight-testing have revealed further fundamental issues with the engine which have kept it in development for so long. These issues are said to have severely hindered in meeting the performance requirement of 90kN of thrust with re-heat at sea-level, which is a major reason attributed due to which IAF and Navy have pushed for the purchase of GE404 in the past and the new GE414 engines for the future Tejas Mk 1 and Mk 2.
Due to the long delays in the development of the engine, the development of Kaveri was delinked from the development of Tejas LCA. The IAF has clearly set the expectations from the engine and stated that in the present form it cannot power fighter jets with modern performance requirements. DRDO is looking for other areas where the engine in its current form can be used.
The joint venture of DRDO and France's Snecma for a 90kN turbofan has also seen delays in finalising the agreement under which Snecma will transfer the key technologies to India for the jet including the intellectual property rights, a top official confirmed that a contract between DRDO and Snecma is likely to be signed within the year. The joint engine development effort will be based on the M88 ECO core and will meet the minimum performance requirements of the IAF and Navy.
It is being said that Snecma will transfer several key technologies as part of the joint engine programme, which include single crystal blades (SCT), bladed disk and EBPVD (electron beam plasma vapour deposit coating), areas where DRDO failed to find indigenous solution. Unlike the Kaveri K9 programme, the K10 programme (the official designation for the proposed effort with Snecma) will be professionally monitored from the outset, with hard timelines and investments.
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