French investment offers to revive India's indigenous jet engine project
France proposed to invest €1 billion to revive Kaveri engines by using offshore credits of the planned Rafale deal which would be used to power Tejas fighters by 2020. The offset obligation translated to over €3 billion, about 50% of the cost. The aim is to upgrade Kaveri with the Mk 1A version of the Light Combat Aircraft(LCA), making it flight worthy within 18months.
The indigenous Kaveri engine poject
An after-burning turbofan project developed by DRDO, Bangalore, Kaveri was originally meant to power HAL Tejas fighters. It was sanctioned in 1989 with a probable date of completion of 1996, later extended to 2009 and finally shut down in November 2014 due to its shortcomings.
Reasons for non-completion of Kaveri project within stipulated time
In a report to the Rajya Sabha, Manohar Parrikar stated that technological difficulties due to complex engine systems was a major impediment to the engine's development. He also cited the unavailability of raw materials and skilled manpower in the field of aero-engine technology Since Kaveri failed to power the LCA, the "dry engine" was used to power India's Unmanned Combat Aircraft instead.
Rafale deal- India's procurement of additional fighter jets
IAF sought additional fighter jets in 2001, however the actual procurement process began in 2007. After Rafale won the contract, the deal was recently finalized in January 2016. The initial deal included acquiring 126 air crafts for approximately $10.2 billion, out of which 18 were to be in fly-away condition. The new terms have reduced the number of jets to 36,all in ready condition.
India's mandatory defence offset policy
India's defence offset policy mandates that foreign arms companies that sell equipment to India are required to invest a portion of the contract cost in the country's defence and aerospace industry which translates to 50% of the cost in the case of the Rafale deal.
Assessment report by French experts
According to French experts, the Kaveri engine would require 25-30% more work in order to make it flight worthy. The deal states that since Safran would take on the investment, India would not be required to spend any more money on the project. Efforts would be made to develop a scaled down 'Ghatak' version for use in India's unmanned aerial combat vehicle.
The French company 'Safran'
Safran is a multinational aircraft,rocket engine, aerospace component, defence and security company based in Paris. The Safran group was created in 2011 with the merger of Snecma and Sagem SA. Its M88 engine is used in Rafale and Shakti engine for Indian advanced light helicopters.