In a big boost to India’s plans to develop its own fighter jet engine, leading French defence manufacturer Safran has signed a $2-million (Rs 13.696 crore) consultancy agreement with New Delhi to help revive the ‘Kaveri’ project.
The ‘Kaveri’ project was stalled in 2014 after the gas turbine engine developed for combat planes and unmanned aircraft was unable to provide the required power thrust.
According to a report in The Economic Times, initial assessments by the French company show that 25-30 per cent more work is needed for the Kaveri engine to be combat-worthy.
The ET report adds that a detailed joint development plan will be drawn up that could use offset credits coming from the Rafale fighter jet deal amounting to 50 per cent of contract cost, which translates to over 3 billion euros (Rs xxx).
The report further says that India may not need to spend more on development, apart from the initial consultancy fee, as the French side has proposed to make the Kaveri flight-worthy within 18 months for integration into the Tejas Light Combat Aircraft by 2020.
India’s Light Combat Aircraft (LCA) Tejas presently uses American GE 404 engines that faced procurement delays after the nuclear tests in 1998.
The Indian Air Force has reiterated its committed to buy at least 80 of the LCA Mk 1A fighters that will meet higher technical requirements than the version inducted this year.