NEW DELHI — India has abandoned its efforts to build its own engine to power the Light Combat Aircraft (LCA) Mark-2, according to Indian Defence Ministry sources.
The Kaveri engine, which Indian defense scientists are trying to build, has failed to meet Indian Air Force requirements two decades after the project began, the MoD sources said.
This means the LCA Mark-2 will be powered only by U.S. company General Electric’s GE-414 engine, which was short-listed earlier over Germany’s Eurojet to power the LCA Mark-2. The aircraft, under development at Bangalore’s Aeronautical Development Agency, is expected to be ready around 2017.
While an MoD official would not say that the engine project has been abandoned for the aircraft, he did say that the Kaveri engine does not fully meet the Air Force’s thrust requirements. The MoD has now decided to use the Kaveri engine to power only UAVs, the official added.
India’s Defence Research and Development Organization (DRDO), the agency that is building the Kaveri, had been in consultation with French company Snecma for the past three years to help complete the engine.
DRDO and Snecma had been negotiating to co-develop and co-produce the engine, but they have yet to sign an agreement, the MoD official said.
While the official would not say why the negotiations failed, an Indian Air Force source said the Kaveri project to power the LCA has been all but abandoned. Beyond powering UAVs, the engine also will be a technology demonstration project.
The Air Force source added that besides the failure to meet the thrust level, the Kaveri also has technical problems with its compressor, turbine and engine control system.
Meanwhile, the LCA Mark-1 is readying for induction by 2014, nearly 15 years behind schedule. It will be powered by the GE-404 engine, also from General Electric.
For the LCA Mark-2 program, ADA will order 99 GE-414 engines and the rest will be manufactured in India under technology transfer arrangements.