Friday, 5 November 2010

The Kaveri engine test in context


I was a bit baffled to see the euphoria amongst visitors to Broadsword over the Kaveri engine flight test announced yesterday by the DRDO. I don’t mean to dampen your Diwali spirits, but if everyone is drawing entirely the wrong lesson from this, I feel I should set the record straight.

The bottom line, as I reported in my Sept 2009 article ("Kaveri jet engine finally poised for first flight") is: this test is the burial ceremony of the indigenous Kaveri development programme. They will measure the parameters etc of the flight tests and then, having quantified what the Kaveri programme has achieved, the file will be closed. Once the flight tests are over, the Kaveri-Snecma programme will begin, in which Snecma will bring to the table a fully developed engine core.

If anyone can be bothered to read the article that I posted in 2009, Mr Mohana Rao, the Director of GTRE told me that the indigenous Kaveri, which had a maximum thrust of 65 KN at full reheat, would never be able to power the LCA for two reasons: firstly, the LCA had turned out heavier than expected; secondly, in the words of Mr Rao, “The Kaveri turned out 15% heavier than we planned. From the planned 1100 kg, its final weight has gone up to 1265 kg.”

“We need more thrust without increasing the size of the engine”, Mr Mohana Rao told me in Sept 2009. “That means getting better technologies from a more experienced foreign partner. We have chosen (French aero-engine major) Snecma. The Defence Ministry has approved the tie-up.”

That notwithstanding, this is only the end of a chapter, not of the book. GTRE has managed to develop, almost entirely indigenously, an engine that can develop 65 KN of power, at a cost of Rs 3000 crores. Now, Snecma is going to show them what they need to do to take that up to the 90-100 KN level.

We wish GTRE all the best.

34 comments:

Ben - Yours truly said...

ok, no problem.

can u infer and give exact specifications of k-9 engine.

Anonymous said...

3000 crores!!!!

Could someone please comment on how this cost compares to development of other turbofans with similar characteristics? Also, was it worth developing the engine (as in terms of knowledge and research for the engineers/scientists), or has the entire amount resulted in near to nil result? Could some one please comment?

mukut said...

truth always heart but its old saying....

"We are all proud of making little mistakes.it gives us the feeling we do not make any big one"

keshto said...

Lockheed's Stevens Says F-35 May Need `More Time, More Dollars'


DRDO will soon bring out India's future main battle tank (FMBT) with a 1500-horsepower (HP) indigenous engine

Gaur said...

GTRE has specifically stated that K9 version will be tested on tejas. True, it may never be used on Tejas but it's application in trainers, uavs, mca etc cannot be denied.

BTW, Europe's future stealth UAV Dassault Neuron prototype is using Jaguar's Ador Engine (37.5 KN max wet thrust). Its production variant will use Rafale's M88 (75KN max wet thrust). As you can see, not the most powerful engines around.

Ravi said...

Thanks for the clarification on the news. For a moment, I was left confused as to what this news means. I hope the next chapter of collaboration with snecma turns out to be a real deal for Indian Jet engine manufacturing capabilities. And yes, All the best to GTRE.

Anonymous said...

Hmmm Back to the screwdriver tech days

Anonymous said...

The bafflement is because you have not understood all the possibilities from the Kaveri. Take a look at Gaurs post and you'll get an idea, plus the Kaveri can be used for many applications beyond the Tejas itself.

Anonymous said...

No need to be baffled because the Kaveri has many applications beyond the Tejas, as Gaur says.

Pratik Das said...

Is there a plan to make compact jet engine(s) for drones and cruise missiles?

Leo said...

One small clarification ajai ji... all present sources have indicated that the kaveri would have been at par with the 80kn F404 making it underpowered for tejas...
(a reasonable enough judgement seeing tthat tejas now requires 95-100kn engine)

however if it is true GTRE only achieved a meager 65kn for a 1200 kg engine then it does seem we have a long,long,long way to go........

Anonymous said...

Despite all the shortcomings, still a good baby step for GTRE. Maybe we can build an LCA trainer with this engine.

Murali said...

Thanks for setting the record straight. Few things that GTRE needs to do is find where this Kaveri may be retrofitted into. eg: Gas turbine for tug boats, Engine for a new trainer (if any), small power plant to be used in remote places,

the bottom line effort must be made to recover at least the investments made even if that means spending a little more to get many other applications.

MPatel said...

I think this will burst lots of bubbles, especially of those cry babies on BR. This is still an achievement and DODO should be congradulated on it. However when this is placed in the context of recent reports that the chinese have deployed the WS-10A with 124KN of thrust on J-11's, it makes one wonder. What will it take to get there?

Manu said...

I am sorry Ajai, but you seem to be clueless about what a big deal it is for a nation to have its own jet engine. In the future, Kaveri and its spinoffs will be see in many different applications ranging from aircrafts to ships and everything in between.
Don't confuse the GTRE-Snecma cooperation for K10 with the indigenous K9+ program. The former is for fulfilling a very specific requirement. Both programs will continue in parallel for some years, but the indigenous program is the one with legs!

Parth said...

But the exiting kaveri design can be improved later on and know how gained is priceless.

If India were to think of making its own engines for future fighters/aircraft and warships, at least the capability is there.

Parth

Kannan said...

Hey MPtatel,
Its not abt producing 125KN thrust..
its about producing required thrust by K-9 without changing structurally or in size or weight of the engine substantially..

Anonymous said...

It is also said by gtre officials that 93% of desired thrust(90Kn) have been realized i.e. 83Kn

Mr. Ra said...

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Shenyang_WS-10

QUOTE>> The WS-10 project had it roots in the earlier WS-6 turbofan which was abandoned at the start of the 1980s.[3] Development of the WS-10 started in 1987 by Shenyang Aeroengine Research Institute (606 Institute) of the China Aviation Industry Corporation. The original WS-10 was found to lack the performance needed for modern jet-powered fighters and was never used to power an aircraft. The design was modified and an improved version, the WS-10A, was tested on a prototype Shenyang J-11 fighter in 2002. <<UNQUOTE

It is a copy/cut & paste story of WS-10.

Anonymous said...

if you haven't failed that means you never tried and you cannot win. Failure is step in success

good luck ......

Binay said...

Ajai Sir,

You said "Kaveri" is completely indigenous.
Let us know.....
How much indigenous "kaveri engine" is?
What is the percentage of foreign equipments used in it?
Can you please give details???

Anonymous said...

To all Colonel basher-s:

Ajai is only bringing a sense of realism to the table. Although one may not dispute the potential spinoffs that could come off the Kaveri project, but for all practical purpose Kaveri-K9 is nothing more than a technology demonstrator. Its future is in a museum.

PS: Ajai, I wonder where this sense of realism had slipped when you chose to become the proponent of F-35? :)

May this Diwali dispel the darkness of ignorance from all our minds and spread the light of knowledge. Happy Diwali!

S

Anonymous said...

well the good news here is that we will be able to get a much better engine and if by chance Rafale is selected then these engins can find its way on it as they will quite similar to the ones on the Rafa presently but with more power and less fule consumption

Anonymous said...

I don't mean to undermine India's indigenous efforts, but don't you believe that the Government agencies are wasting too much money and delivering too less. I mean, with the amount of money and time we have spent on these programs, indigenization has caused more problems than it has solved.

Don't you think we'd do better by either following the reverse engineering approach or by privatizing the matter like the US.

At least less public money would be wasted.

The Tatas have already expressed their intention to get into making fighter jets. I think other majors like L&T, etc would not mind getting into joint ventures with foreign firms to come up with semi-indigenous defense products.

PS: I don't really believe that the best Indian talent serves in companies and organisations like the DRDO. I think the people who were not employed by the private sector or the very patriotic ones would really get into such organisations. We need better talent, which I believe, only the private sector with it's wealth can attract.

Anonymous said...

why it says 40-50 tests to be done, on this kaveri engine.It would take lot of time.If the chapter is closing than why DRDO would perform so many test on this platform of kaveri.

Indranil said...

So what was "successful" bout the maiden test flight?

cybersurg said...

Shuklaji - if, in a few years time a Kaveri engine does power the LCA - I hope you will gracefully eat your words and admit that you were wrong in 2010.

I will certainly be around to make the point if your blog still exists.

After all we all wish the IAF, ADA, HAL, GTRE and India well and we do want to see success.

Don't we?

Ravi said...

People with real talent are not motivated by money alone but the desire to learn and leave a legacy. Which is why the DRDO and other public R&D orgs like DAE continue to attract talent, versus the get rich quick types who go from the IIT to MBA route, or end up abroad. Its sheer tomfoolery to think that only money motivates people as anon@14:39 thinks. Also, where exactly have these guys taken too much and contributed too less, the hyped private companies run to Europe for design, engine technology, to UK for engineering consultancy and are yet to develop something as path breaking as Kaveri.

Anonymous said...

>>why it says 40-50 tests to be done, on this kaveri engine.

To characterize the performance of the Kaveri in every regime, calculate fuel burn, compare values against simulation

The first flight is a big deal because it matches the ground tests where engine ran flawlessly, after faults were rectified

Anonymous said...

3000 crores over 30 years ! and DRDO is smiling, Tata would have done a bteer job with half the funds.

Anonymous said...

I guess this engin could be used for a lighter trainer type of a/c or perhaps in drone type of a/c - being optimistic here, but you never can tell baout the jugad tech capital of the world.
I think GTRE has done good in independentally developing a complete engine in Rs 3000 crore only. We have already got the naval Kaveri out of this (have not heard anything else since the initial announcement of it). But it is good to have this behind us as we learn how to build a better and more powerful engine as our scientists now know what to ask/look for. Good luck to them.

PRANAV UNDALKAR said...

GTRE MAY DEVELOP IN FUTURE MORE POWERFUL VERSIONS OF KAVERI AND THOSE VERSIONS MAY POWER MCA.KAVERI IS UNDERPOWERED BUT WE GOT TECHNICAL KNOW HOW WHICH IS IMMENSELY VITAL.WE SHOULD TRY TO REVERSE ENGINEER AL 31FP.THIS WILL SOLVE OUR PROBLEMS AND WE WILL HV FINE ENGINE.WE SHOULD SWITCH TO REVERSE ENGINEERING OF RUSSIAN ENGINES.2ND OPTION IS TO HIRE RUSSIAN SCIENTISTS WHO WORKED IN SOVIET AIRCRAFT ENGINE COMPANIES BUT NOW ARE UNEMPLOYED.WE HIRED RUSSIAN SCIENTISTS AND UNDER THEIR GUIDANCE WE GOT ARIHANT SUBMARINE WHICH IS MUCH SIMILAR TO AKULA. WE CAN REPEAT THAT STORY.
MY TWO PAISE.REGARDS.

Anonymous said...

It is not correct to make fun of DRDO it is people like you and me who make the DRDO. If they have made a 65 kn engine it is an achievement can you name one Indian made even 100 cc or above engine, look at Indians sitting elsewhere and selling secrets to China and getting caught and then land with 37 years prison sentence.As a corollary espionage should be resorted to in national interest. All countries do it to overcome various short comings it is not a sin.

Anonymous said...

Dear Mr. Shukla

must ask whether the 65kN figures are correct for full afterburner as it is said to be 81kN

Kindly request you to verify and reply with an update or confirmation of your numbers as this is a huge difference and many (like me) almost always take your word for fact