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France’s Safran Group will support Kaveri turbofan development
June 27, 2017
A Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL) Tejas lightweight multi-role fighter. Photo credit: Government of India

France’s Safran Group will support Kaveri turbofan development

The French propulsion giant Safran Group will be supporting India’s Gas Turbine Research Establishment (GRTE) in the final development stretch of the latter’s turbofan program, the Kaveri.

The Economic Times reports that a $2 million U.S. contract was awarded to Safran Group for consultancy work in relation to the Kaveri, with “initial assessments … [showing] that 25-30% more work is needed” in order to bring the Kaveri into full fruition as a serviceable engine.

It appears that Safran Group will be investing in the Kaveri program under the commercial offset clauses promised in India’s near-$9 billion U.S. purchase of 36 Dassault Rafale multi-role fighters. It is expected that the Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL) Tejas will be flying with the Kaveri by 2020.

Notes & Comments:

The GRTE Kaveri is among India’s pivotal defence programs, one that will not only affect the Tejas fighter, but also future aviation programs, be it unmanned aerial vehicles (UAV) or next-generation fighters.

It would not be surprising if Safran Group’s investment in the Kaveri amounts to a significant portion of the French industry’s offset commitments to India. For New Delhi, a truly dependable – and more importantly – homegrown turbofan engine would have considerable near and long-term benefits in terms of self-reliance and flexibility in export efforts.

That said, certain issues with Safran Group will need to be addressed prior to the French giant’s entry in the program. First, the question of intellectual property and technology ownership. Considering that the investment will, ultimately, be drawn from India’s Rafale purchase, one should expect New Delhi to push for as much ownership or commercial rights over Safran’s input as possible.

  • Shakeel

    It seems that India has the luxury of unfetterd access to Western technology, in comparison to Chinese (AECC) which heavily draws on domestic research & Russian assistance.ToT can also be based on threat perception, which is heavily in favour of India. India has consistently fallen short in perfecting gas turbine technology i.e if we look at Kaveri efforts in recent years

    The alliance with Safran & GE Aviation is to foster a new era of co-operation, and help propel the ‘made in India’ brand to new heights. The latter, project highlights that India takes great pride & honesty to develop prestige projects, whilst other nations are indulging in pitiful corruption at the expense of squandering their own national wealth.

    • GhalibKabir

      Not really, China has a superb military technology espionage regime in place for decades now. As an Indian I envy that. Plus the fact the Chinese have been ready to work their butts off developing a domestic industry is testimony that direct western access is not really needed (though past israeli and French support come to mind).

      The nuclear issue is also a case in point. Who cares for the NSG when Pak gets reprocessing technology, reactors from China through the back door and is a master at enrichment itself?

      • Shakeel

        With reference to your comments earlier it appears that you added your slant to my original statement toward China. I do not recall questioning the military
        capabilities of China, which you happened to ‘envy’, I too revere China’s
        military & economic rise with great pride & joy.

        It appears that our Indian friends wants us to cloud our judgment on India’s Kaveri Engine failures. The initial plan was to invest $56 million dollars for the project to come into fruition, and ever since this figure has ballooned closer to
        £1billion.

        The assertion that Kaveri programme failure can be attributed solely to acousticinstability is premature, as engine manufacturing has & will continue to
        remain India’s persistent ‘Archille heel’. Performance deficiencies such as the
        cooling system & bearings have been left out of the equation. Fundamental
        weakness Metallurgy & design are also contributing factors .

        India needs to utilise its so called friend & partners like, France, Germany , USA, Russia , Japan , etc to walk them through this mess – hence Safran & GE thrown a lifeline to India’s ‘Super- puwa” ambitions.

        Furthermore there are more than one ways to skin a cat (with reference to espionage). China has managed to access western technology through making strategic investments such as Nottingham University inoovation centre.

        Before you start glorifying your achievements to dizzy heights, I hope you take ‘a chill pill’ to mellow your nationalistic ego’s.

        • GhalibKabir

          My comment was directed not to you but at @kash if it helps clarify and refers to the N Program and not engines.

          So, the personal attacks are uncalled for and unbecoming, also the acoustic instability was at best an example of some key issues outstanding. The Kaveri has seen some success and has some significant drawbacks. Thats it. There is no ego to massage around either. Indians who know properly have never denied the shenanigans of the IAF in goal post moving or the difficulties faced by engineers. Those are the ground facts.

          China solved the Single Crystal Blade issue only last year and India might take more time in all probability. btw, if 56 million could give any one an engine then as the IAF chief PV Naik once quipped… where do i sign the check?

          Metallurgical issues differ by platform as you should know. If India can solve the metallurgical issues involving nuclear submarines and aircraft carriers, it should be able to solve the kaveri issues in due course. deri hai that any reasonable person will admit…

          Again, there is no need to make personal attacks. it is highly unbecoming and we are all old enough to understand and accept reasoned arguments

  • Donny G

    Pakistan has to start the development of turbofan jet engines. Perhaps building them under licence like Sweden and South Korea does would be sufficient. I would even look into working with Ukraine.

  • GhalibKabir

    The UAV program would likely be only a marginal beneficiary as the Kabini Core of the Kaveri delivers enough thrust for operating UAVs and UCAVs already. The Tejas, AMCA and aircraft engg industry in India will no doubt be a beneficiary provided Safran shares real value added IP relating to engines. Whether that will be case is to be seen.

    Another important thing IMHO is the potential for a GE 414, GE 110 plant in India (the 110 for F-16). As of November 23, Lockheed seems to be quite active putting together a set of tier 1 to tier 3 firms to support a potential future F-16 ecosystem in India.

  • GhalibKabir

    Amar, excellent point. This is also a key reason even China had so much trouble getting the WS engine right. It is only recently they have been able to kind of ‘fix’ all the issues… People become skeptical when I say even the Kabini Core is a fantastic milestone.. as you so rightly point out the complex metallurgy and the ability to manufacture the right kind of high grade metal is something very few countries have mastered. It is therefore no surprise Safran or any foreign vendor is likely to find every possible way to limit IP sharing to the minimum.

  • GhalibKabir

    your claim is neither logical nor defensible against claims made by Pakistanis who worked on the program. The book ‘ eating grass’ by PA Brig Gen Feroz Khan clearly catalogs the facts. the most prominent being the ‘gift’ of 50 kg enriched bomb grade uranium by China in return for centrifuge related help and also the 5000 ring magnets to KRL case of 1996. That China is in the NSG today is a joke given its proliferation record. (typical jiska laati uska bhains case)

    Also you might not know that only because of the Afghan war did Reagan overlook Pakistani C-130s presence in Lop Nor test site in China in 1981-82 picking up bomb related materials. These are all proud claims made by Pakistanis who were directly in the nuke program. AQ Khan played a key role in enrichment tech but Pak got a lot of help at least in the 80s & 90s with the bomb design process from China.

    • kash

      these are unsubtantiated gossips at best no proof whatsoever…Brig Gen Feroz Khan has no credibility

  • middleway1

    Just a FYI. A cursory Google search yielded this excellent article about the extremely sophisticated metallurgical and materials science industrial and research base needed for turbofan engine development and manufacturing. As someone mentioned, Pakistan doesn’t even have a properly functioning steel mill. Pakistan is a long way from developing any turbofan engine technology in the near or mid-future, i.e. at least another 50 years. There are too many deficiencies at many levels that need to be overcome. At best, we could get a license to assemble them from imported parts as a beginning: http://lesterstechohome.blogspot.com/2012/08/aviation-technology-understanding-jet.html

  • amar

    My friend , why is that irrelevant? You yourself just recognized what I said, didn’t you? Kindly tell me if Pakistan had any decent proper functioning steel mil that can contribute in any meaningful way.

  • GhalibKabir

    If educated people like you deny fact based evidence then what is there to say? Khan was a Director at Strategic Plans Division and a 30 year veteran of the Pakistan Army who gives extensive references to back his claims and you are calling it unsubstantiated gossip. The proof of burden is on you my friend. You also realize that your statement amounts to saying senior Pakistani army people involved in the N bomb program are irresponsible right?

  • Kashif

    Failure or success, no matter what still knowledge of a treasure for Indians. something Pakistanis also should do.

  • amar

    @disqus_ZFyvA7rpSE:disqus

    do you even know what it takes for “meaningful contribution” in metallurgical research?Kindly tell me if that mill you’re talking about can even produce maraging steel,let alone anything else! Please be HONEST!And do NOT FORGET to support your argument with a credible link from company’s site or official claim!

  • amar

    @disqus_ZFyvA7rpSE:disqus
    Hi! This is what happens when you “share a link without thoroughly reading it”.I did read all the 14 pages of the pdf attached below(from your own link that you shared),yet I couldnt find a single shred of detail regarding the indigenous manufacturing capability of maragin steel.On the contrary the report throughout maintained that pakistan to this day,Yes to this day,uses illegal channels to source critical technology from advanced countries–including china!Kindly go to page-2 ,para-5,6,7.Also note that while going through your link(ISIS),i came to know that pakistan started using plutonium only recently. The report clearly states that the focus throughout the 90s was on WGU as opposed to plutonium.On the other hand India had plutonium program right from day-1! It also clearly mentions that India has a far superior nuclear reactor program that has developed a variety of reactors ranging from PHWRs,Fast Breeder Reactors to LWRs for submarines. India also has produced close to 3000kgs of plutonium,but unlike pakistan a major chunk of this plutonium yield is for fueling the PFBR-550 reactor(India’s very own breeder design).

    http://isis-online.org/uploads/isis-reports/documents/Pakistan_WGU_and_WGPu_inventory_Oct_16_2015_final_1.pdf

    This is another link that clearly states how entire nuclear setup was erected in pakistan.

    http://nuclearweaponarchive.org/Pakistan/PakDevelop.html

    https://books.google.co.in/books?id=ud8TM7Pc67sC&pg=PA208&lpg=PA208&dq=production+of+maraging+steel+in+pakistan&source=bl&ots=y1V7zq0K2i&sig=eei9IC_OyEUGJ1BlT9NLPjjQl3M&hl=en&sa=X&ved=0ahUKEwjL5NjD1e3QAhVHRo8KHTDCB8EQ6AEIJzAA#v=onepage&q=production%20of%20maraging%20steel%20in%20pakistan&f=false

    • Keyser

      Well I suggest you keep looking its in there…

      .Frankly I am not bothered what you think.

      Keep trying……

  • Shakeel

    Dear Amar,

    Thank you for your much awaited response. It seems that you have immersed yourself to the post I wrote 11 days ago. I sense a ground swelling of lava, which you are about to erupt at any moment in time

    Against the backdrop of Kaveri achievements which you have highlighted, I too have a plethora of open source literature at my disposal, which is contradictory towards your entrenched standpoint. Clearly you may have liaised or visited GTRE R&D labs in over a week to vindicate your standpoint on the significance of ACOUSTIC INSTABILITY..The latter phenomena of acoustic instability
    research have been ongoing for the last 30 yrs, and given more credence in recent times. Dr Vasudevan Kanjirakkad of Sussex University will testify towards this trend. The latter department derives the bulk of it’s R&D funding from GE Aviation.

    Your assertion that Acoustic Instability alone is a contributing flawed on many accounts. Some of which highlighted in the below articles.

    http://www.defenseworld.net/news/16511/Will_India_Ditch_GE_Engines_For_Reviving____Kaveri____Project_With_French_Offer_#.WFAkfH136hc

    http://www.business-standard.com/article/opinion/ajai-shukla-engine-of-indigenisation-115122101122_1.html

    http://www.deccanchronicle.com/opinion/op-ed/120216/the-high-cost-of-air-power-1.html

    The above articles are damning indictment towards Indian efforts towards indigenisation,and the fact is that the French have identified multiple problems in the core of the Kaveri engine (see below)

    http://idrw.org/indias-kaveri-engine-beat-reliable-f404-ge-in20-engine-power-tejas-mk-1a/

    Before you venture out to dwell on this topic against, I suggest you keep a lid on your head gasket, before your arguments pale into insignificance.

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