Kota said that the engine was fit for use in an unmanned combat air vehicle

BANGALORE: One of the reasons for the delay in developing the indigenous Kaveri Engine for fighter aircraft is the lack of testing facilities in the country, aircraft designer and the father of Light Combat Aircraft, Kota Harinarayana, said. He was talking at the IIT-Industry conclave organised by the IIT-Alumni Centre (IIT-ACB) Bangalore on Saturday.

Kota said a facility to test each of the modules -- the fan, compressor, combustor, turbine, nozzle -- before validation is necessary. “With the best of the engineers, I have to go through three or four iterations.”

Even for a small test one has to go to Russia or elsewhere, making it a time-consuming process and leaving very little opportunity to scale up or down, test and validate the components, he added.

India does not even have a fully functional wind tunnel facility. Nor does it have a facility to simulate an engine that will work at 40,000 to 50,000 feet above ground, he pointed out. All these decades we have been talking about the engine without giving the infrastructure to do the job, he added.

Kaveri turbofan undergoing test at GTRE, Bangalore

While the TEJAS was backed by a national team -- with the IITs, academia, and R&D laboratories joining in, a similar system was not put in places in case of the development of the Kaveri engine, he said.

Kota said that the engine was fit for use in an unmanned combat air vehicle. However, there is still a long way to go for an unmanned combat fighter aircraft and fifth generation fighter jet. Highlighting the ‘Jugaad’ solution to problems in India, he said Indians do not believe in systems, processors, systems engineering and tend to lose more time.


Talking about the Gas Turbine Engine which is being developed by multiple defence labs and similar indigenous programmes, Kota said infrastructure needs to be created, manpower trained, technology developed and only then can one get into the project --- a sequence ISRO has followed. However, if you do not invest, the project suffers. “Creating those facilities would require anywhere between Rs 7,000 to 10,000 crore,” he said.