French boost to jet engine plan, Kaveri project being revived

NEW DELHI: India’s quest to develop its own fighter jet engine got a leg up after a $2-million consultancy agreement was finalised with leading French defence manufacturer Safran to help revive the Kaveri project.

The project stalled in 2014 after the Kaveri gas turbine engine developed for combat planes and unmanned aircraft was unable to provide the required power thrust — a fact French experts expect to correct after study.

Initial assessments by the French company show that 25-30% more work is needed for the Kaveri engine to be combat-worthy.

A detailed joint development plan will be drawn up that could use offset credits — the obligation is 50% of contract cost, which translates to over 3 billion euros — coming from the Rafale fighter jet deal.

As reported by ET in July, France has offered a 1-billion euro investment to revive the project. Several rounds of discussions have already taken place since January between Safran, which has developed the M88 engines for Rafale, and Indian developers.

Apart from the initial consultancy fees, India may not need to spend on development 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.

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