The Dry Kaveri engine, which underwent high-altitude tests in Russia, is expected to power India's first stealth UCAV Ghatak

Designed by India's premier defence research and development company, the Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO), the Dry Kaveri engine is a turbofan engine.

It was originally developed to power India's indigenous light combat aircraft (LCA) TEJAS manufactured by the state-run Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL) for the Indian Air Force (IAF).

However, as the engine failed to meet the technical parameters set by the IAF, it was officially disassociated from the TEJAS program in 2008.

India's Indigenous Aircraft Engine

After remaining in the doldrums for nearly a decade, the Kaveri engine project got a new life after the Gas Turbine Research Establishment (GTRE), a lab under the aegis of DRDO, began developing a dry variant of Kaveri to power the country's maiden stealth, unmanned combat aerial vehicle (UCAV), named the Ghatak.

In June 2022, multiple defence publications reported that the latest Kaveri engine was far more stable than its previous version, and had also overcome the noise issues it was dealing with in the past.

Multiple tests were carried out in India to validate the engine's combustion stability before high-altitude tests of the Kaveri were reportedly conducted at Russia's Baranov Central Institute of Aviation Motor Development in February 2023.

In September 2022, the DRDO signed a deal with Godrej Aerospace to manufacture eight Kaveri engines to conduct more trials ahead of its planned completion of all tests by 2025.

"It's a Kaveri derivative engine – a 48 kN dry engine without an afterburner – for which we have the order to manufacture eight modules. As we speak, we are in the advanced stages of making the modules and getting into actual manufacturing," Godrej Aerospace Associate Vice President and business head Maneck Behramkamdin said at the time of signing the contract.

Current Status of Dry Kaveri Engines

On Tuesday (18.04.2023), Godrej began manufacturing the engines, which the company said it plans to deliver by late 2023 or the start of 2024.

The DRDO has set a 2026 deadline to incorporate the Kaveri into the under-development UCAV Ghatak.