Monday, 28 June 2010

Air Force says DRDO stalling Tejas fighter engine










The EJ200 engine, which powers the twin-engine Eurofighter, is the front-runner in the contest to power the single-engine LCA Mk 2. Also in contention is the GE F-414. In these photos, a demonstration team at the ILA 2010 in Berlin replaces a Eurofighter engine in 35 minutes.

IAF feels DRDO fronting for French engine, citing “joint development”

by Ajai Shukla
Business Standard, 28th Jun 10

India’s Tejas light fighter is failing to meet performance targets, largely because of an underpowered engine. And the Indian Air Force believes that the Defence R&D Organisation (DRDO) is actively stalling the process of choosing a new engine.

A furious IAF, which urgently needs the Tejas to replace its retiring MiG-21 squadrons, has complained in writing to the Ministry of Defence. The IAF report says that even as the Aeronautical Development Agency or ADA --- which oversees the Tejas programme --- is choosing between two powerful, modern engines from the global market, the DRDO has confused the issue by throwing up a third option: an offer to resurrect its failed Kaveri engine programme, this time in partnership with French engine-maker, Snecma.

The IAF report, currently with the highest levels of the MoD, makes two points. Firstly, since the DRDO has been unable, over two decades, to deliver a Kaveri engine that can power the Tejas, the ongoing procurement --- of either the General Electric F-414, or the Eurojet EJ200 engine --- should go ahead.

The IAF’s second objection is even more damning for the DRDO: Snecma, the IAF charges, has already developed the heart of the engine it is offering, an uprated derivative of the M88-2 engine that powers the French Rafale fighter. The DRDO, therefore, will not co-develop the engine, but merely provide Snecma with an indigenous stamp. In reality the Gas Turbine Research Establishment (GTRE), the DRDO laboratory that has laboured for decades on the Kaveri, will hardly participate in any “joint development”.

Furthermore, says a top IAF source, a Kaveri engine based on Snecma’s new core will leave the Tejas short of performance, providing barely 83-85 Kilonewtons (KN) of maximum thrust. In contrast, the GE and Eurojet engines already short-listed for selection provide 90-96 KN, a significant advantage. The source says sneaking in the underpowered Kaveri-Snecma engine through the GTRE back door will damage the LCA project.

For the IAF, the performance of the new engine is crucial. It has agreed to accept the Tejas into service as soon as the fighter obtains its Initial Operational Clearance (IOC) in December, even though the Tejas does not yet fly, climb, turn or accelerate fast enough. The IAF’s accommodation is based on a promise from the Aeronautical Development Agency (ADA) --- the body that oversees the Tejas’ development --- that a new, more powerful engine will overcome all the Tejas’ current performance shortfalls.

Senior IAF officers explain that the DRDO needs the Tejas project to endorse the Kaveri-Snecma engine because Snecma insists on a minimum assured order of 300 engines as a pre-condition for partnering GTRE in “joint development”. Since India’s futuristic Medium Combat Aircraft (MCA) --- the other potential user of a Kaveri-Snecma engine --- has not yet been sanctioned, only the Tejas programme, with some 120-140 fighters planned, provides the numbers needed for satisfying Snecma.

The IAF will buy two squadrons (42 fighters) of Tejas Mark 1, which use older GE F-404 engines. In addition, five squadrons (110 fighters) of Tejas Mark 2 are planned, which will be powered by a new engine. Given that each Tejas could go through 2-3 engines during its lifetime, the LCA Mk 2 will actually need 200-300 of the new engines.

Contacted by Business Standard, the DRDO has declined to comment on the subject.

Business Standard has already reported (12 Dec 09, “Kaveri engine comes alive; will power Indian fighters”) that the MoD is backing Kaveri-Snecma as a new engine for the LCA. That report was corroborated on 13th May 10 by Defence Minister AK Antony, who told parliament that the Kaveri “requires to be optimised for lower weight and higher performance so that it can be used for Light Combat Aircraft (LCA) Tejas and possibly for Indian next generation combat Aircraft.”

But there are mixed signals from the establishment. In the same statement, Antony also talked about the possibility of engine import. And the ADA chief, PS Subramaniam, has told Business Standard, “There are many Tejas already flying that will soon need new engines and we will use the Kaveri-Snecma engines for those. The Tejas Mark 2 will be powered by either GE F-414 or the EJ200.”

According to ADA sources, both the GE and Eurojet engines have fully met the technical requirements for the Tejas Mk 2. The Eurojet EJ200 is the more modern, lighter, flexible engine and has impressed the IAF. The GE F-414 is significantly heavier, but provides more power. The Indian tender for 99 engines (plus options) demands that all engines after the first 10 be built in India.

25 comments:

Anonymous said...

good shot on the head of the nail.. you have nailed in the coffen of GRTE idea to import eco core in the name of JV... good work

Anonymous said...

Did DRDO try to partner with Europe, or GE before starting work with Snecma? If not, that would be a red flag!

Does the lighter and smaller M88 still need to produce 90kn thrust?

When will the rebranded Snecma be ready for delivery? If it's not too long, the wait 'may' be worth the effort.
If not, something is seriously wrong with DRDO's leadership. Heads should roll.

Anonymous said...

Import everything and then paint it as India.

Anonymous said...

The primary concern of DRDO is to ensure survival of its labs by securing work for them. If they were more concerned for LCA they would have started searching for a new engine when a heavy LCA was being built and not afterwards when the customer cried foul. LCA didnt become overweight overnight, yet DRDO continued with Kaveri development for years to keep GTRE busy even if it was not helping LCA.

Anonymous said...

Ajai shukla looks quite frustrated after loosing to Shiv Aroor! lol Got an old technique, bashing drdo. i will appeal to all drdo people to left drdo and work for some private companies when journos like AS will make weapons for us. lol

Anonymous said...

AS why you are favoring Eurojet so much now a days? lol

Shailendra said...

Ajay
Are you sure that the core will be from Snecma ? I have never heard of that. If thats the case, this means the "Kabini" core is dead ? please clear this. If you are right, what the hell GTRE is doing from last 20 years ?

MAthiMan said...

@IAF,
THE IAF cannot reject the Kaveri snecama engine on the basis that it is not a complete indegenous effort. Even partial indegenization is a good progress.

@ DRDo,
they have to atleast get the power to 90 KN thrust for airforce to accept it. I thought MK2 s are very far from actual inductment and hence now a firm decision can be made. but below 90 kn power is not acceptable as that will affect the aircraft performance. may be the DRDo can try to include thrust vectoring. Sinc the kaveri snecma is light engine it may be possible to include partial TVT in this engine

Shophi Rajesh said...

What a blog post! I have'nt seen much of originality when
compared to other blogs...

Nk said...

DRDO should go in for Modern tanks/fighter aircraft/radars/laser weapons/future communication/future warfare management system/etc JV with IIT's, NIT's and other technical institutions in India. They should also pay billions of dollars to research institutions to set-up the facility for these research. The DRDO should do the following to develop future systems:

1) Through requirement study for 5/10/20 weapons systems: seal and sign the final requirement study with IAF/NAVAL stamps.

2) recruit each candidate based on talent: recruit innovators, not hard-workers.

3) Study the weapon market in world.

4) schedule rigid development of sub systems, integration and rigorous testing in complex environment.

5) request IAF and IA to have their own technical team for R&D and evaluation pre and post product.


Guys, I am preaching DRDO, shame shame. The DRDO guys would say what the F.

or

The best DRDO can do is, import all weapons and paint it, MADE IN INDIA.

joydeep ghosh said...

@ ajai sir

there is a typo

"The DRDO, therefore, will not co-develop the engine with the DRDO, but merely provide Snecma with an indigenous stamp." it should have been Snecma.

By the way I have a point to make, correct me if I am wrong.

I believe Tejas LCA was never meant to be a fully powered fighter that will fly with heavy weapon systems on full tank. As such its the lightest and the smallest fighter ever to fly.

My point is a fighter needs extra power only in 3 situations;
1. while taking evasive action from incoming missiles
2. in a dog fight
3. chasing other aircrafts

So being developed to replace Mig 21 and being Pakistan specific I think making customized adjustments to GE F404-GE-IN20 turbofan with possible boosters for raising the maximum thrust to 91-92 Kilonewtons (KN) should be good enough for LCA mk1 and as such LCA mk2 also.

And to do that technical assistance from Snecma, GE, Eurofighter is more than welcome. We dont need General Electric F-414, or the Eurojet EJ200 engine.

As for Kaveri, GTRE/ADA should concentrate on its marine avatar. Just a querry

Q1. Sometime back i heard Kaveri engine was sent to Russia for some kind of flight test, any news on what purpose and how was the test?

Anonymous said...

what a lesson for pakis and the chicoms how not to mess up projects like this. Its only in India ,where confusion has the nth dimension!!!! shame on us!!!

Ra said...

Eurojet EJ200 shall be given preference over Kavery only in case of serious overriding concerns regarding the differences in power and delivery over the indigenous efforts.

Kavery even if it now fails with Tejas mk2 and when it gets qualified, shall have all futuristic scopes with Tejas mk3, AMCA and unmanned stealth bombers.

Broadsword said...

Shailendra:

Your comment, "Are you sure that the core will be from Snecma ? I have never heard of that. If thats the case, this means the "Kabini" core is dead ? please clear this."

The Kabini core is dead and buried. Now GTRE and Snecma want that it be replaced with the ready-developed Echo core that Snecma has already developed.

Joydeep:

Your comment, "I think making customized adjustments to GE F404-GE-IN20 turbofan with possible boosters for raising the maximum thrust to 91-92 Kilonewtons (KN) should be good enough for LCA mk1 and as such LCA mk2 also."

Joydeep, do you really think that GE and Eurojet and Snecma and Honeywell and all the other engine makers are idiots to develop entirely new engines when "customized adjustments", whatever you mean by that, are good enough to raise the thrust to above 90 KN?

Gautam said...

Good job, Ajai. The anonymous armchair jingos have already started bashing you and the IAF for 'DRDO-bashing' but the ones that support the truth stand by you.

It's a pity that even after being de-linked from the LCA program the Kaveri is still trying to sabotage the program for its own benefit. Anon #4 was right on the money with his explanation of DRDO's priorities. They just want to keep their jobs, just like any other monopoly-lusting PSU.

I sincerely hope that our technically illiterate MoD babus(in particular Antony) realise the facts and complete the engine selection process pronto. But this is India, and the right thing seldom happens.

Ra said...

As a practical rule, whatever parameters the forces shall specify, the DRDO shall attempt for 15% improved specifications from the word go.

This is based upon following experiences:

1) There is no limit on funding.
2) There is no limit on time schedule.
3) Specified parameters are bound to be improved with the time.

mowgli said...

Guys at GTRE, please let this bird fly! I am tired of hearing about this LCA. I was mowgli when I start reading about this plane and now I have my little mowglis reading about this unflyable plane. For God's sake let this project complete.

Anonymous said...

i am tired of people telling,it fell short of requirement, we have problem.


but no one cares about explaining the problem even athigh level. I rememeber your ariticle last time you have pointed a thrust amount. is that figure still relevent.if so can they imrpve just the reliablity of the engine with the same thrust.


why not devlope a new fighter or atleast a trainer around that engine.... we should not abandon kaveri at any time.. As i always say change the name kaveri to ganga...

Kavari is not lucky name:) look at the river water dispute between TN and KN. it is never ending like kaveri project

Anonymous said...

This time, I think the IAF is right. Waiting for the Snecma engine throws up a whole lot of uncertainty into the LCA Mk2. Better to build it with what is tried and tested and already working fine. The Snecma engine, which we should continue to build, can be used in the MCA.

Anonymous said...

Nice job reporting this Ajai! You've articulated a very valid concern of the IAF. Congratulations to the IAF for bringing this issue up early and in a professional manner.

Anonymous said...

Why does Snecma need a "firm" order of 300 when their product Echo core is ALREADY developed ? Snecma is not make any fresh investment with our order for core of Kaveri. Customers do not promise the numbers for a product already developed.

Best thing is to keep Kaveri de-linked from Tejas so as not to delay Tejas but keep it for MCA which will be twin-enginned, alternative uses in power generation and on RTA and Saras.

Anonymous said...

hey guys check this blog out
http://geneva-globaldefence.blogspot.com/2010/06/lockheed-to-offer-fifth-generation-f-35.html

Ru Lca said...

1)we know well that gtre wants to survive.....we really want it to survive at any cost....but not at the expence of LCA in any way....tomorrow if india wants to do any kind of export ...forget it withan imported engine....thats truth.

2)we want indegeneous engines at any cost...but not at the expence of lca...french if give the CORE, HIGH TEMP METAL MANUFACTURING,SC BLADES,POWDER METALLURGY,BLISK DISK TECHNOLOGY SOME HELP ON KAVERI THATS OK GO WITH A JV because they WILL NOT CHANGE THE CORE BUT WILL DEVELOP LP COMPRESSOR WITH GTRE MAY BE EVEN TVC.........A GREAT ADVANTAGE.
THAT WILL SURE TAKES NOT LESS THAN 3-7 YEARS......HARD TRUTH.

3)SINCE THEY EJ IF PROVIDE THESE THINGS AT EXTRA COST ...ITS GREAT.


4)OTHERWISE GO WITH THE FOREIGN ENGINES FOR NOW BUT .....NEVER GIVE UP KAVERI DEVELOPMENT MAY BE WITH SNEGMA,PW,GE,EJ,JAPAN......ETC
BECAUSE IT IS THE MOTHER FOR THE ENGINES FOR TANKS,UAV,TRAINER,SHIPS ETC WHICH IS THE BIGGER PICTURE ....


5)WE KNOW WELL ABOUT THE BABU TIFFIN RATES....AND SWISS BANK ACCOUNT INCREASES....LET THE JV MOVE ON ANY COST.

6)300 ENGINES WITH ECO CORE IS A REAL FARSE .....BECAUSE WE KNOW WHO IS TALKING ......GTRE. BUT WE PAY FRENCH 2BILLION DOLLARS FOR THIS .....LET THEM NOT WORRY ABOUT THE CORES ... BUT WORRY ABOUT SUPPLYING ALL THE REQUIRED ITEMS .... THATS ALL.

7)WE LOVE KAVERI MK2 ON MCA VERY VERY MUCH THAN ON LCA..............

bookz said...

Is the GE engine heavy enough to significantly impact power/weight ratio?

Sudip Das (sddp1968@yahoo.co.in) said...

A few observations :

Kaveri is delinked from LCA project .

Indian Airforce should ask for for fixed time frame for delivery . If they do so then ADA will fix a date for engine integration . If DRDO GTRE can meet this time frame then their engine should be considered , otherwise not .

Indian Navy has its inhouse design facility . Indian Air force should set up its in house design facility if it wants indigeneous fighter aircrafts.