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.