The Defence Ministry may revive the stalled Kaveri engine project with French support with Paris offering technical assistance on the indigenous engine. The development has come as one of the offsets for the multi-billion dollar contract to buy 36 Rafale fighter jets for the Indian Air Force.
The Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) folded up its three-decade-old Kaveri gas turbine engine project after spending nearly Rs 2,000 crore as the indigenous engine could not generate adequate thrust required for the Tejas Light Combat Aircraft. The French experts who examined the Kaveri project felt about 25-30% development work on the engine remains, which can be completed in the next 18 months to make the engine flight worthy by 2018.
Once the engine is ready, then future upgrade of Tejas could have them in their cores rather than buying jet engines from abroad. Failure of the Gas Turbine Research Establishment, Bangalore, to deliver the Kaveri engine forced the Defence Ministry to pick up 41 US-made GE 404 and 99 GE 414 engines for Tejas.
The Kaveri engine revival may be done by French specialist Safran, which manufactures the M88 engine for Rafale as a part of the offset. Other French majors like Thales, MBDA and Dassault, too, could be a part of the deal, which is being negotiated between the two governments.
A previous attempt by the DRDO to rope in the French company as technical consultant to revive the engine did not work out due to objections from the IAF that felt more time would be lost if the DRDO once again tries the collaboration route after spending two decades with the Russians with no result.
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