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Thread: Kaveri Engine is a non starter for LCA

  1. #1
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    Angry Kaveri Engine is a non starter for LCA

    After 2.5 freaking decade and millions into it this is dead. What a freaking Shame!!

    The dream of fitting Kaveri engine being developed indigenously into the home-grown Light Combat Aircraft LCA-Tejas appears to be as good as over.

    "Kaveri engine as such will never come into LCA", P S Subramanyam, Director of Aeronautical Development Agency (ADA), a DRDO lab, which is the nodal agency for the design and development of LCA with HAL as the principal partner, told PTI here.

    Noting that LCA-Mark 1 and Mark 2 will have engines from GE, he, however, said the LCA would support Kaveri engine's flight tests and demonstrations and certification.

    "As and when there is support required by the Kaveri engine, LCA will give support of its flying test facilities", Subramanyam said. He expected flying tests of Kaveri engine to lead to its fitting into unmanned air systems.

    Subramanyam said Kaveri engine-fitted LCA would not go into the Services. "In the production aircraft (LCA) going into the Services, Kaveri engine will not be there". Kaveri engine, originally intended to power the LCA, was taken up for development by Bangalore-based Gas Turbine Research Establishment (GTRE) about two-and-half-decades ago but the project has been dogged by delays, with the DRDO lab not being fully able to overcome technical challenges and development snags.

    Scientific Advisor to Defence Minister and DRDO Director General V K Saraswat said unmanned air systems would see the integration of Kaveri engine for different applications. Kaveri engine will be demonstrated on board an Indian origin aircraft, added Saraswat, also Secretary in the Department of Defence (R&D).
    Meanwhile, Subramanyam said the first LCA produced by HAL would be ready in the third quarter of this year.

    Source - http://www.deccanherald.com/content/...tejas-fly.html

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    Welcome to 2007.

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    And they're much better for it...

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    You cannot politic your way to a working engine.

    And a 25 year development cycle means the lessons learned will not be available for the next engine development due to retirements of those persons who learned the lessons.

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    Well DJ 25 years doesn't mean it was a good engine.

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    Everything has a price, this is no Thermo nuclear secret. Snecma, GE, RR, Russians are looking for dollars. But our babus are not aggressive enough....

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    Goodbye Tejas.
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    Quote Originally Posted by seahawk View Post
    Goodbye Tejas.
    Do the GE engines ruin everything?

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    They undercut one of the justifications for its existence, i.e. independence.
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    Without an working engine there is that little chance of export potential now that they are reliant on a foreign supplier. It looks like they won't be making any money out of it its too bad the LCA could have been an excellent aircraft to sell off to dirt cheap African or ME states.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Reddor View Post
    Without an working engine there is that little chance of export potential now that they are reliant on a foreign supplier. It looks like they won't be making any money out of it its too bad the LCA could have been an excellent aircraft to sell off to dirt cheap African or ME states.
    There just isn't that much of a market for that type of jet. Typically buyers on very limited budgets just buy used aircraft or do without.

    Look at how much luck the Gripen has had. After years and years of trying with a fully mature aircraft they have only managed to sell a few dozen and lease a couple dozen more.

    That isn't to say the Gripen isn't a good plane, just that it is a very challenging segment of the market.

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    Quote Originally Posted by seahawk View Post
    Goodbye Tejas.
    did you even read what the article said?

    its the Kaveri that will not be used on the Tejas, and since these programs were delinked a few years ago, this article really is a few years late- and we knew years ago that the first 40 Tejas Mk1s would fly with the F-404-IN20 and the F-414INS6 was earmarked for the Tejas Mk2.

    Just FYI, the Tejas program is still going ahead and a Mk2 is in the works. So its not good bye Tejas, its firmly placed in the plans for the IAF. Watch out for a lot of updates on this program from Aero-India 2013.

    And Kaveri will be used for other purposes as well, most likely the UCAV and a variant perhaps for the AMCA, so its not dead either.
    Last edited by BlackArcher; 28th January 2013 at 07:25.

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    When will the LCA with the new GE engine's be declared operational? Has the IAF come out with a date?
    Banking establishments are more dangerous than standing armies

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    Quote Originally Posted by BlackArcher View Post
    And Kaveri will be used for other purposes as well, most likely the UCAV and a variant perhaps for the AMCA, so its not dead either.
    It would be great if AMCA used an engine of Indian origin. What's the timeline, though?

    If SNECMA is no longer in contention to help turn the Kaveri into an engine providing sufficient thrust and reliability to power AMCA and other partners are now being sought to help achieve this, how far can AMCA design be taken? I don't see how you can design an aircraft with the engine located in the fuselage if you don't know the weight, dimensions and thrust of the engine to be used.

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    To start a new design you have to have a reliable engine at first or the other way around. In the case of a future Kaveri Engine it will be used in a two engine design for some time to get the desired technology base and related experiences. None serious will see a top-end design from that and India is just approaching the technology level of the 80s by that. Neither India nor China can cut corners in technology without a surplus in money spending and an awful lot of real flight-numbers to learn it the hard-way. I am still surprised to learn that the people there still believe they have not have to pay the related level of money to get the desired level of exerpertise from that.

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    Quote Originally Posted by BlackArcher View Post
    did you even read what the article said?

    its the Kaveri that will not be used on the Tejas, and since these programs were delinked a few years ago, this article really is a few years late- and we knew years ago that the first 40 Tejas Mk1s would fly with the F-404-IN20 and the F-414INS6 was earmarked for the Tejas Mk2.

    Just FYI, the Tejas program is still going ahead and a Mk2 is in the works. So its not good bye Tejas, its firmly placed in the plans for the IAF. Watch out for a lot of updates on this program from Aero-India 2013.

    And Kaveri will be used for other purposes as well, most likely the UCAV and a variant perhaps for the AMCA, so its not dead either.
    Have you been following the actions of the IAF. Additional SUs here, talk about additional Rafales there, Jaguar / M2K up-grade and SLEP on the way, any potential hopes for Tejas export orders practically gone, plane is just coming out of a lengthy grounding. Development is way behind the current F-35 state for example, the role of the plane in the IAF is questionable...

    Now with one of the most important technological / political goals missed, it is not that hard to speculate about an end for that program. And I personally consider the support of the IAF lukewarm at best, probably ice cold when asked to pick between 100 Tejas Mk2. and 60 SUs or Rafales.
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    Quote Originally Posted by swerve View Post
    They undercut one of the justifications for its existence, i.e. independence.
    Precisely.

    It also impacts upon future exports, having to get the okay from the US first.
    In a tight market, any single possible sale having to get the okay from Washington, among the other issues and conditions that come with this dependence, will be a crucial thing.

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    GE just received an order for 99 GE414 INS6 engines. The IAF has gone on record stating it has a requirement for at least 83 MK-2 Tejas, and it has also ordered 40 MK-1.

    That's equivalent to the entire MMRCA run, without options. There are 16 spare, some of which will be used for the Naval variant of the Tejas which too will use a Ge414.

    http://www.reliableplant.com/Read/26...GE-engines-jet
    Mentions another 49 engines as options. So again, for the Navy & AF.

    More will certainly be ordered for spares etc.

    http://www.thehindubusinessline.com/...ue&ref=wl_home

    Mentions HAL is investing in a new facility to make Tejas @ 16/year which has been a long standing IAF and ADA demand. Its now been cleared.

    Bottomline - the role of the Tejas in the IAF is pretty much confirmed and so is its production.

    Exports are irrelevant, as India has never really looked towards exports for its military programs. Their prime objective remains satisfying local demand. Things may change in the future, but as of now, merely import substitution itself brings in substantial ROI.

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    Quote Originally Posted by wilhelm View Post
    Precisely.
    Sorry, but that only shows you are not tracking Indian defence programs in detail. The Tejas was both an attempt to get India the tech to make its own fighters and also, give the IAF a credible fighter.

    In the process, India took heavy risks. The Kaveri was the biggest and went against the usual axiom of taking a proven engine to develop an airframe around, which would be the usual method attempted by first timers/relatively smaller aircraft industries.

    One of the reasons all these were linked to the LCA were because this was the only funded program and since TDs were not done before, all were attempted in parallel with the program.

    Now, the Kaveri program has been delinked from the LCA and is not cancelled either. A new RFP is out for cooperation with other engine houses and the aim is to develop a MK2 engine in time for the AMCA, which is still 10-15 years away. In the meantime, variants of today's Kaveri are being developed for the IUSAV (a strike UCAV), the Navy (which wants a local gasturbine for its ships) and civil applications (power plants and a prime mover for the railways). Net, by the time a MK2 comes about, India would have also got some well needed lessons in terms of actually productionizing its own gas turbine and not just designing & prototyping it.

    Bottomline - there are now several aerospace programs for which common modules/technology are being developed - apart from the LCA itself. This makes the LCA program managers life easier, because its no longer essential that they must and should use the Kaveri or specific items.

    Having said that, one of the prime focus areas of the LCA remains indigenization, so they will continue that wherever possible, until and unless it negatively impacts the other primary raison de etre of the program, which is to make a fighter for the IAF.

    It also impacts upon future exports, having to get the okay from the US first.
    In a tight market, any single possible sale having to get the okay from Washington, among the other issues and conditions that come with this dependence, will be a crucial thing.
    Which is a moot point, because the LCA was never intended to be driven by exports.

    It, like most other Indian defence programs, is primarily intended for the home market, first and foremost.

    Exports, if any, are an afterthought.

    Furthermore, the Indian defence services are not too keen that the weapon systems developed for them, be exported. India simply does not have the time & resources right now to develop safe "export variants" of many of the systems it makes. Unlike the ALH or Do-228 for example, there is no quasi-civil role for the Tejas either. These dual use platforms are the only things that may be exported apart from some specific lower end defence items.

    There is also the issue of production rates. India's defence modernization needs are so urgent that almost all the production is being soaked up by local services.

    Lets take two programs which were marketed at defence expos and drew some interest.

    The Brahmos has often been cited as an example of a system India-Russia have agreed to export. Having said that, the Brahmos corp is struggling to meet Indian demand! They are now setting up another additional integration & assembly plant in India to meet existing orders from the IA/IAF and IN. Once the IAF ALCM variant or a sub launched variant is ready, more orders are expected (the IAF has already asked for 214 of the ALCM type), so wheres the possibility of exports at present.

    Or the Akash program.

    Interest from other SE Asian countries apart, the program has to deal with a substantial order backlog! 8 Squadrons for the IAF at production site 1 (Bharat Electronics Ltd) and 2 Regiments for the Army at production site 2 (Bharat Dynamics Ltd). Some of the vendors will be common..

    And once that is done, there is a MK2 variant underway and next, the Indo-Israeli LRSAM/MRSAM to consider. The Navy already has some 3 hulls waiting for the missile system!


    Similarly, with the LCA, after heavy prodding and file pushing, HAL has committed to putting up the facilities to ramp up LCA production to 16 aircraft per annum.

    This will allow them to meet IAF demand of 40 MK1 + 83 MK2. Thats 8 years, plus 1-2 more for ramp-up. So when & where will any export slots be available for customers from abroad?

    And the Indian Navy also expects to order 2-3 squadrons of the type, once the NLCA gets qualified with a Ge414 INS6. Given they are manically serious about indigenization and have funded the program, they are going to push for their orders as well.

    Once the LCA MK2 is done, there is talk of a MK3 & then transition to the AMCA.

    The existing facilities will be repurposed and upgraded for the same. HAL for instance expanded and upgraded (plus built new greenfield facilities) the MiG complex to make it the manufacturer of the Su-30 MKI.

    Bottomline - exports of defence systems from India will only come when the private sector gets involved in defence manufacture in a big way. That is happening, but is a few years away for smaller items and at least a decade away for fighters!

    Only they will be willing to take risks and keep pushing the system to export items for capturing profits from outside India.

    And invest in building up scale for orders more than the immediate local ones.

    The Indian DPSU manufacturing system as it stands is much more conservative and driven mostly by domestic demand, which in itself is huge!

    For instance, apart from the LCA, the IAF wants approx

    1. ~144-200 FGFAs (PAKFAs)
    2. another 100 Su-30 MKIs (HAL has so far delivered 119), plus upgrades to the Super 30 standard/s once all Su-30 MKIs are delivered
    3.126-189 Rafales (including the 63 options)
    4. the 123 LCA Tejas (40MK1, 83 MK2 and not considering Naval orders or additional prototypes)
    4. around 140 AMCAs (or even more)
    5. plus the upgrades to 60 odd Jaguars (DARIN-3) and 50 Mirages (over a decade).

    This is apart from the UAV/UCAV programs, transport aircraft programs (MRTA), Hawk assembly/IJT program etc etc.

    HAL is sitting on more orders than it can shake a stick at.

    Right now its boom time on local orders alone, well into the next decade and a half. Exports are nowhere in the picture.

    Things may change once Tata, Mahindra etc manage to finagle an aircraft line - thats intended for the HAL AVRO replacement (some 50 aircraft) which are to be assembled by a local vendor.

    The Indian Govt will only clear other private manufacturers to set up their own fighter assembly lines when they prove competence via other aero projects or make a very compelling business case (e.g. huge investments on their own). Plus they can guarantee local management control.

    But as far as fighters are concerned, probably 15 years from now.
    Last edited by Teer; 28th January 2013 at 18:30.

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    Quote Originally Posted by seahawk View Post
    Have you been following the actions of the IAF. Additional SUs here, talk about additional Rafales there, Jaguar / M2K up-grade and SLEP on the way, any potential hopes for Tejas export orders practically gone, plane is just coming out of a lengthy grounding. Development is way behind the current F-35 state for example, the role of the plane in the IAF is questionable...

    Now with one of the most important technological / political goals missed, it is not that hard to speculate about an end for that program. And I personally consider the support of the IAF lukewarm at best, probably ice cold when asked to pick between 100 Tejas Mk2. and 60 SUs or Rafales.
    I have been following the IAF and its actions very keenly for many years.which is why I can say that signing a deal with GE for $540 million to purchase 99 F-414-INS6 engines makes it patently obvious that the Tejas Mk2 is going to be a reality. Where were you when the news on the de-linking of the Tejas program from the Kaveri engine program occurred? DRDO was only hoping that the first 40 Tejas Mk1s would be re-engined with the Kaveri when they came for MLU. Now, it appears that that will not happen either, but that in no way at all, hampers the Tejas Mk1 or Mk2 programs.

    Had the IAF had any doubts on the feasibility of the Mk2 program, they could have simply gone ahead with a small purchase of F-414-INS6 engines, enough for integration and flight testing and evaluated the Tejas Mk2 and then only placed an order for Mk2s- but instead they’ve gone ahead and ordered enough engines for 4 squadrons of Mk2s and placed options for 100 more engines, adequate for 4 more squadrons. Plus, the IN has provided funding for the first 8 N-LCAs as well, with the F-414 engines and even the Naval Chief is on record that the IN is most interested in getting the N-LCA into service rather than looking at any other alternatives. All that indicates that the Tejas program is quite secure. Obviously, for a first time fighter program of such technology and scale, there will be issues but both the services have now shown full support for the program, both funding wise and with direct deputation of personnel to overlook the program and assist in design/testing and flight testing.

    As for export orders, that is not really of much concern for the IAF or ADA/HAL. The primary customer’s requirements have to be met and only if there is any spare capacity at a later date, will they even look for that. By then, the Tejas Mk1 would have been in service a few years and most teething issues sorted out.

    The upgrades to the Mirage, Jaguar and MiG-29 are meant to keep IAF’s force level at a reasonable level while resolving technological obsolescence issues. They don’t indicate that the IAF is not going to induct the Tejas.
    Last edited by BlackArcher; 29th January 2013 at 07:00.

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    Quote Originally Posted by BlackArcher View Post
    As for export orders, that is not really of much concern for the IAF or ADA/HAL. The primary customer’s requirements have to be met and only if there is any spare capacity at a later date, will they even look for that.
    Tejas exports may not be the concern of ADA/HAL but I would think that the opportunity of creating a larger high technology industrial base would be highly desireable for the Indian economy. Countries go to great lengths to try to secure orders for their military aviation industries - visits of heads of state to potential buyers, offset agreements etc because the benefits to the seller to sustain its high technology industry are so great. Why is India's approach different?

    50 years ago many countries opted to equip their air forces with the inexpensive export version of the Northtrop F-5. Over 1,000 F-5A/B were made for the export market (and hundreds more of the later Tiger version). There are many countries worldwide now which cannot afford to replace their aged MiG/Mirage/other fleets. My guess is that the market for a Mk2 export version of Tejas with a "no foreign power approval needed engine" - an indigenous engine - might be huge.

    Since India wants an indigenous engine for AMCA it would make commercial sense to me to spend $2 billion+ on getting an indigenous engine developed to suit both AMCA and Tejas. AMCA might require 300+ engines. Selling a Tejas Mk2 export version could more than double engine production.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Teer View Post
    Sorry, but that only shows you are not tracking Indian defence programs in detail. The Tejas was both an attempt to get India the tech to make its own fighters and also, give the IAF a credible fighter.

    In the process, India took heavy risks. The Kaveri was the biggest and went against the usual axiom of taking a proven engine to develop an airframe around, which would be the usual method attempted by first timers/relatively smaller aircraft industries.
    Firstly, thank you for your impassioned and detailed reply.

    Secondly, in the Tejas thread I said:

    It was awfully ambitious to do a new, completely-from-scratch airframe, engine, and avionics programme without a systematic build-up, or seamless transition from a previous programme.
    I'm quite aware of the what the programme was to achieve.
    Replacement for the Mig-21 primarily.
    As important was a completely indigineous fighter.

    I have been following Indian defence programmes quite nicely, thank you.
    No matter how excruciatingly torturous and dodgy some of them have been.

    We all remember the sanctions that were put in place against India by the US after the nuclear tests.
    The reliance on a US engine knocks the pillar down from one of the key fundemental aims of the entire Tejas - a completely indigineous fighter jet.

    I for one am sad that the Kaveri will not be put into the Tejas.
    I quite like the project.

    The Kaveri engine has been a massive issue over the projects lifespan.


    I am happy Kaveri development for non-Tejas use will continue, but to say it doesn't matter that it will no longer be fitted to the Tejas is disingenoius.
    It is a sensible decision to get the airframe operational though.

    India may not previously have exported, but if they want to compete against China, Russia, the EU, and the US, commeasurate with her size, then India needs to make that progression to exports at some stage.

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    Hi Wilhelm, i figure I didnt make my point well. Thing is that your points are correct re: the importance of the Kaveri, all I am saying is that the IAF has been ok to the idea of the US for the engine & not just for the LCA but for the Jaguar program as well. So, times have changed. Personally, I agree with you, and don't think the US should have been rewarded for its sanctions by such mega deals, but the current Govt in India, for the past 8 odd years, is pretty much as proUS as it gets. Even our foreign policy is at times reflective of that.

    Having said that, from the strategic point of view, India is a bit more stronger now geopolitically and hence sanctions (again) from the US, would hurt them more than India. It would just permanently freeze their rep & Europe/Russia would benefit.

    Coming to the Kaveri, thing is the project is not dead, so India does have a choice. A lot of the bad press about Indian defence programs is because India is very open with regards to many developmental programs and plus there is a colonial hangover, in that whatever is done locally, is often never as good for the media etc as "imported". Homegrown stuff is simply not glamorous, and scandal sells.

    But the actual programs are pursued with grit. For Kaveri for instance, plan is now to develop a MK2 for the MRCA with the latest tech., while the MK1 will be fielded in number using different variants for civil and military purposes.

    Some 3-4 other jet engine programs are underway per public reports but mostly for small aircraft/missiles etc.

    What I am trying to say is that per se, the Kaveri program is not dead, and will continue. Its disappointing that it can't be used on the LCA itself, but then again, launching a program of this magnitude & hoping it would be done within the budget/tech constraints India had then (and still does today), was being unrealistic.

    Unfortunately, the MiG-29 experience soured the IAF on the Klimov engines from the maintenance and MTBF point of view, initially, otherwise using them might have been an option. The Su-30 acquisition also came too late for the AL-31 to have been a strategic choice, and again the LCA would have had to be heavily redesigned to accomodate that engine.
    Last edited by Teer; 31st January 2013 at 16:59.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Spitfire9 View Post
    Tejas exports may not be the concern of ADA/HAL but I would think that the opportunity of creating a larger high technology industrial base would be highly desireable for the Indian economy. Countries go to great lengths to try to secure orders for their military aviation industries - visits of heads of state to potential buyers, offset agreements etc because the benefits to the seller to sustain its high technology industry are so great. Why is India's approach different?

    50 years ago many countries opted to equip their air forces with the inexpensive export version of the Northtrop F-5. Over 1,000 F-5A/B were made for the export market (and hundreds more of the later Tiger version). There are many countries worldwide now which cannot afford to replace their aged MiG/Mirage/other fleets. My guess is that the market for a Mk2 export version of Tejas with a "no foreign power approval needed engine" - an indigenous engine - might be huge.

    Since India wants an indigenous engine for AMCA it would make commercial sense to me to spend $2 billion+ on getting an indigenous engine developed to suit both AMCA and Tejas. AMCA might require 300+ engines. Selling a Tejas Mk2 export version could more than double engine production.
    All your points are well made. And correct.

    In a nutshell, regarding your bold point, politics.

    If you begin your nation based on a namby pamby thought process of world peace & non violence and pursue a hamfisted reactive policy of arming up only when forced to the wall, as in 1962...the end result is strategy goes for a toss.
    Almost 90% of India's independent history has been in the hands of one political party, and their economic policies have often been disastrous and held hostage to all sorts of unrealistic & even vested interests.
    Now, with business no longer being a dirty word, unlike in Nehrus India, or even Indira's - chances are that arms exports may begin, without much fuss, but may grow over time.

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    If Kaveri's dead, then try to use license produced Snecma M88 for the Rafale. The French aren't so strict as to where their weapons go and India would be able to export Tejas with M88 engine just fine. The French doesn't care as long as they are paid.

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    well, i'll say we Chinese are far more desperate & persistent SOBs on domestic military engines than our neighbor.

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    Quote Originally Posted by thinkplum View Post
    well, i'll say we Chinese are far more desperate & persistent SOBs on domestic military engines than our neighbor.
    Unlike India, China doesn't even have the option of buying US and European engines and China's local engines aren't working, forcing them to rely on Russia for engines.

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    Quote Originally Posted by SlowMan View Post
    Unlike India, China doesn't even have the option of buying US and European engines and China's local engines aren't working, forcing them to rely on Russia for engines.
    They're going to work them out eventually.

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    Quote Originally Posted by SlowMan View Post
    If Kaveri's dead....
    Nope, far from it.
    http://defense-update.com/20130104_kaveri_tender.html

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    Quote Originally Posted by Spitfire9 View Post
    ...50 years ago many countries opted to equip their air forces with the inexpensive export version of the Northtrop F-5. ...
    A quibble: there wasn't an 'inexpensive export version'. The F-5, in both A/B & E/F incarnations, was an inexpensive export aircraft. There was no non-export version.
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