IAF and DRDO Clash Over LCA Engine

By admin • July 2nd, 2010

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India Defence Online, New Delhi – With continual delays plaguing the replacement of the MiG-21 squadrons of the Indian Air Force (IAF) with “Tejas” Light Combat Aircraft (LCA), the IAF has furiously reported to the Indian Ministry of Defence that the state-owned Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) is blameworthy for this situation.

The IAF has submitted its report to the Defence Ministry where it has highlighted major shortcomings of the DRDO that have lead to such unfortunate circumstances that are jeopardising the quick replacement of MiG-21 squadron with “Tejas” LCA.

The IAF pointed out that even as the Aeronautical Development Agency (ADA), the nodal agency overlooking the “Tejas” programme, is ideating on which of the two modern engines must be incorporated, the DRDO has put the whole matter in a tizzy by suggesting a third option. The two engines that were the main contenders are the General Electric (GE) F-414 and the Eurojet EJ200 engine. Now, the DRDO has suggested a retrial of its failed Kaveri engine programme. However, this time it will be in partnership with French engine-maker, Snecma.

Among the salient features of the IAF’s allegations on the DRDO, it has been indicated that for over two decades, the DRDO has been unable to deliver a Kaveri engine that can power the “Tejas” LCA. Hence, no further time must be wasted in the ongoing procurement of either of the other two engines from the global market. Besides, even if a Kaveri engine based on Snecma’s new core is applied to the “Tejas”, it will leave the fighter plane short of performance, providing barely 83-85 Kilonewtons (KN) of maximum thrust. In contrast, the GE and Eurojet engines are already short-listed for selection to provide 90-96 KN.

The IAF will buy two squadrons (42 fighters) of Tejas Mark 1, which use older GE F-404 engines. In addition, five squadrons (110 fighters) of Tejas Mark 2 are planned, which will be powered by a new engine. The ADA has confirmed that both the GE and Eurojet engines have fully met the technical requirements for the Tejas Mark 2 fighters.

As for the Indian Defence Ministry, it seems to be supporting the Kaveri engine and it feels that the engine requires to be optimised for lower weight and higher performance so that it can be used for the Tejas as well as for the indigenous next generation combat Aircraft.

source: India Defence Online

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