Indigenous aero engine stays on radar, says DRDO official

K. Tamilmani  

The last word may not have been said about an indigenous aero engine although the first effort, the Kaveri engine, didn't make it to powering the LCA light fighter plane.

New efforts, tweaks and hopefully a Rs. 2,600-crore grant are being explored to salvage 25 years of work and resources of over Rs. 2,000 crore spent on the Kaveri and use the engine’s derivatives in unmanned strategic projects of the future - probably with a different name.


Already its spinoff version has been identified as the engine for ‘Ghatak’, a tentatively named future unmanned combat aircraft on which early studies have been taken up at two aeronautical labs based in Bengaluru.

“There is potential for derivatives of the Kaveri engine to be used for strategic purposes and other programmes. For anything in future that requires a 50-kilo-Newton engine [& its multiples,] here is a readily available one. Only a few engineering adaptations are required,” said K.Tamilmani, Director-General of DRDO’s Aeronautical Systems, who demits office on May 31 after about three years in the post.

The military research establishment has not given up the quest for a potential Indian powerplant for future military systems, he indicated.

‘A critical need’

Asked if a ‘flying’ Indian engine cannot be ruled out in the future, Dr. Tamilmani told The Hindu the development of aero engine technology and product was long identified as a critical need in defence research.

“The engine should be ours one day. It will, should happen, it may take time. Its technology development needs focus. The engine is also top priority for defining the shape of any aeroplane design and must be frozen first.”

Of the 10 DRDO labs in Bengaluru, the aeronautics cluster of four is predominant.

It includes the Gas Turbine Research Establishment that has worked on the Kaveri since the mid-1980s; and the Aeronautical Development Establishment that is into drones.

New efforts to build on 25 years of work on Kaveri, for UCAVs, etc.