India-made Kaveri engines have gone through 27 flights of 55 hours duration on the Russian-origin IL-76 aircraft, the Indian parliament has been informed.
Defence Minister A.K. Antony told parliament that India has so far developed nine prototypes of the Kaveri engines and four prototypes of the Kabini (core engines).
Both the indigenous engines have so far gone through a total of 2,050 hours of testing at both ground and altitude conditions for various requirements including performance, operability, endurance and environmental.
"Two major milestones, namely successful completion of official altitude testing and completion of first block of flights of Kaveri engine in flying test bed has demonstrated the technological capability and maturity of this indigenous effort.
"Kaveri engine prototype K9 was integrated with IL-76 aircraft at Gromov Flight Research Institute in Russia and flight tests have been successfully carried out up to 12 km maximum forward altitude and a maximum forward speed of 0.7 Mach," Antony said.
Critical subsystems and its associated knowledge know-how has been acquired in association with Indian public and private sector industries, including certification methodologies, he added.
The Kaveri aero-engine, which was incidentally considered for powering the indigenous Light Combat Aircraft, has been under development for the last 22 years and its sanctioned project cost has crossed $600 million.
The engine provides a thrust of 80 kiloNewtons, considered too less for the Tejas LCA and hence, the Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) is proposing this as the engine to power an India-made unmanned combat aerial vehicles (UCAVs).
The DRDO has also modified the Kaveri version by designing a free-power turbine to generate shaft power for propulsion of warships and the Indian Navy seems interested in this engine, as it can provide 12 MW power. The Indian Railway also has shown interest in the engine for powering its trains.
The DRDO is has also tied up with French firm Snecma to jointly develop a 90-kiloNewton upgraded Kaveri engines for the future requirements of IAF combat planes.