Talks are on with the French side to up-rate the engine for both Tejas and Sukhoi fleets
Confident with initial studies that show that the desi ‘Kaveri’ engine can be revived and turned around for fighter jet operations in a short time span, India has asked its French collaborators whether the power-pack of the engine can be further boosted to upgrade its fleet of Su-30 MKI fighters.
The Kaveri project – which was abandoned in 2014 as it did not meet the power requirements of the Air Force – is being revived with French help for use on both the indigenous Light Combat Aircraft (LCA) and a new unmanned combat aerial vehicle (UCAV) project.
Work is on with the French side to use the significant offsets on the Rafale fighter jet deal to fund a redevelopment of the Indian jet engine project. French company Safran has to invest over $1 billion in India as part of its offset obligations for the Indian Rafale deal.
India is keen on an indigenous power plant that can be used for its future series of aerial combat platforms. Sources have told ThePrint that now the Indian side has suggested that the Kaveri engine be rated up to produce a power of 125 kn – to make it usable for the Su-30 MKI fleet.
The Air Force has a fleet of just under 300 Sukhoi jets that will need to be upgraded. “The idea is to have a more powerful engine that can be used for a ‘Super Sukhoi’ upgrade. With the numbers we require, it will be good to have a Make in India solution,” sources involved in the process told ThePrint.
The sources said that studies are now being carried out on the feasibility of using the upgraded Kaveri for the Su-30 MKI fleet. While Russia will need to be consulted for an engine replacement on the fleet as it is the designer of the jet, officials on the Indian side do not foresee any objections given that French engines are being extensively used, including on the KA-226 helicopters that are to be manufactured domestically for the Army.