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Make aero engines in India for self-reliance: Defence experts

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 Make aero engines in India for self-reliance: Defence expertsBengaluru, June 20 (IANS) | Defence experts, including aerospace scientists and engineers, on Thursday urged the Indian government and industry to step up indigenous design and development of aero gas turbine engines for self-reliance in production of military and civil aircraft.

“The government and the industry should jointly design and develop aero gas turbine engines to make them in India for military and civil aircraft, which has huge potential,” defence expert and former military aviation regulator K. Tamilmani told reporters here.

The city-based Gas Turbine Research Establishment (GTRE), under the Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO), took over three decades to design and develop the Kaveri aero engineer for the indigenous Light Combat Aircraft (LCA) Tejas, but it could not be used for want of the required thrust and overweight.

“The Kaveri engine went through several tests on ground and mid-air in India and Russia for airworthiness. It was also flown in 2010 about 70 hours on board an Il-76 for high-altitude and speed tests. As the tests failed to meet the required parameters to fit into the LCA, General Electric (F404-GE) engines are used for the Tejas fleet,” former GTRE Director T. Moharao told IANS here.

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Engines are the heart of any aircraft, and their making is a complex technology, which is protectively owned by just 5 countries – the US, Britain, Canada, France and Russia.

US sanctions in the aftermath of the May 1998 Pokhran nuclear test forced India to go for indigenous development of jet engines for the LCA project and achieve self-reliance.

“GTRE had tied up with French aero engine maker Snecma for completing the Kaveri project development with its know-how. As an offset of the Rafale fighters deal, we hope Snecma will help us in making Kaveri air worthy for LCA and other indigenous aircraft, as it is a part of Rafale maker Dassault Aviation consortium in France,” a former HAL executive told IANS.

Though the city-based state-run Hindustan Aeronautics Ltd (HAL) has been making aero engines under license with Russian aerospace majors for its MiG-21 and Sukhoi-30 fighters, with Britain’s Rolls Royce for Jaguars and advanced jet trainer (AJT) Hawk and Shakti aero engines for its advanced light helicopter (ALH) Dhruv, it did not design and develop jet engines for fighters.

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“As the requirements for aero engines in military and civil aircraft will be in thousands in the coming years, the government and industry should make its development a national mission for self-reliance and air prowess,” former GTRE director C. Kalaivanan said.

For reviving the Kaveri aero engine project, in which the government had already invested a whopping Rs 2,000 crore and create interest in the design and development of indigenous aero gas turbine engines, the Society for Advancement of Aerospace Propulsion (SAAP) and the Aeronautical Society of India (ASI) is holding a day-long national workshop the issue here on June 22.

Top defence scientists and technocrats, including former LCA project director Kota Harinarayan, former HAL chairman Krishnadas Nair and others will share their expertise with their counterparts in design agencies.

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