While the indigenous Light Combat Aircraft (LCA) Tejas is at present integrated with an imported engine, in future it is proposed to develop indigenous engines for powering aircraft such as LCA variants and Advanced Medium Combat Aircraft (AMCA) in association with an International Engine House, the Government informed the Parliament on Monday.
“LCA Tejas , Flight Operational Clearance (FOC) configuration demands higher thrust than the intended engine requirement. Hence the Kaveri in the present architecture cannot be integrated. In order to induct with LCA Tejas , a modified engine version is required,” Minister of State for Defence Ajay Bhatt said in a written reply in the Rajya Sabha. The technological capabilities built through the Kaveri engine project will be utilised, he stated on the proposed engine development in future.
The LCA FOC variant and the Mk1A are powered by the GE-F404 engines while the LCA-Mk2 and AMCA in future will initially be powered by a more powerful GE-F414 engines.
The Cabinet Committee on Security (CCS) had sanctioned the indigenous Kaveri engine project in 1989. The project which ran for 30 years with an expenditure of ₹2035.56 crore saw the development of nine full prototype engines and four core engines. A total of 3217 hours of engine testing was conducted and the engine has also completed altitude tests and Flying Test Bed (FTB) trials.
Stating that this is the first time that an indigenously developed military gas turbine engine was flight tested, Mr. Bhatt said that Kaveri engine project has achieved higher Technology Readiness Level (TRL) in many critical technology domains and those technologies are being used in the various engine development programmes of the country. “Further the engines are used as test vehicles for validating next generation technologies.”
To another question on the induction of the indigenous Light Utility Helicopters (LUH) developed by Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL), Mr. Bhatt said that the Initial Operational Clearance to LUH has been granted. Four Limited Series Production (LSP) of the indigenous Light Utility Helicopters (LUH) would be manufactured by 2022-23 and eight LSP LUHs by 2023-24, Mr. Bhatt said.
The numbers would be split equally between the Army and Air Force. The LSP would be followed by manufacture of Series Production helicopters by HAL, he added. The LUH along with the K2-229T light utility helicopter from Russia is meant to replace the ageing Cheetah and Chetak helicopters in service.