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India flight tests Kaveri engine in Russia

Fighter jets top global arms sales
Stockholm, Sweden (UPI) Nov 11, 2010 - Fighter jets are the hottest items in the global arms sector, a Swedish defense industry watchdog said. Sales of combat jets and their related components accounted for 34 percent of the global arms market from 2005-09, the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute said in a study released Wednesday. "Combat aircraft dominate international arms transfers," writes Siemon Wezeman, the author of the study. It comes shortly before Air Show China 2010 opens next week in Zhuhai and as Saudi Arabia, Brazil and India are all looking to complete major aircraft purchases. The study warns that an increase in combat jet deals can have a destabilizing effect on the regions where they're deployed in large numbers.

"While combat aircraft are often presented as one of the most important weapons needed for defense, these same aircraft give countries possessing them the potential to easily and with little warning strike deep into neighboring countries," he said in a statement. SIPRI didn't specify the total sales volumes of the combat aircraft market. It noted that prices for advanced combat aircraft start at around $40 million per plane, with jet sales usually accounting for a significant share of a country's arms exports. However, it's hard to pin down an exact sales price. SIPRI cited a Jane's Defense Weekly report showing that as Norway calculated a price of $54 million for each American-made F-35 fighter, the U.S. Defense Department reported a price of $97 million per unit. For the buyers, large-scale contracts meanwhile tend to weigh heavy on national budgets.

"Even for rich countries, the acquisition of such expensive systems may shape the direction of defense policy and doctrine for many years -- once bought, countries are unlikely to dispose of such high-value assets quickly," the report said. India, the United Arab Emirates and Israel were the three largest importers of combat jets from 2005 until 2009, SIPRI said. Russia and the United States were the most successful suppliers, with about two-thirds of all combat jets delivered by those two countries. Only nine other countries are currently producing combat jets. China, France, India, Japan and Sweden build them nationally, while Germany, Italy, Spain and the United Kingdom have teamed up for the production of the Eurofighter Typhoon. SIPRI says Saudi Arabia paid $6 billion-$7 billion for 72 Eurofighter jets, with Australia handing the United States an estimated $4.8 billion for 24 F/A-18E planes. Meanwhile, other lucrative contracts are up for grabs: France's Dassault Rafale, Sweden's Gripen NG by Saab and the U.S.-made F/A-18 Super Hornet by Boeing are all competing for a major contract to outfit the Brazilian armed forces with 36 new fighter jets.
by Staff Writers
New Delhi (UPI) Nov 11, 2010
India has successfully flight-tested its Kaveri jet engine using an Ilyushin Il-76 transport as a test bed flown in Russia.

"The engine was tested from takeoff to landing and flew for a period of over one hour up to at an altitude of [19,700 feet] at a speed of Mach 0.6 in its maiden flight," a statement by India's defense ministry said.

"The engine control, performance and health during the flight were found to be excellent."

The pilot controlled the engine and a number of taxi trials were carried out before the flight. However, ministry didn't issue performance details, such as engine thrust, a problem with the engine in the past.

"With this test, the Kaveri engine has completed a major milestone of the development program," the Ministry of Defense said. "During the coming months further 50 to 60 test flights will be carried out to mature the engine in terms of reliability, safety and airworthiness. These trials would pave the way for further flight trials of Kaveri engine with a fighter aircraft."

The test flight, at Russia's Gromov Flight Research Institute near Moscow, comes after India's state-owned Gas Turbine Research Establishment spent around $455 million on the project in the past 20 years.

Development of the afterburning turbofan engine, first run in 1996, has suffered setbacks over the period, including an overweight issue with the engine.

The unit also has failed to produce the required thrust of 22,500 pounds needed for propelling the Tejas light combat aircraft, another overdue, indigenous military project.

In 2004, the Kaveri failed high-altitude tests in Russia, ending hopes of installing in it the first Tejas aircraft. The latest defense figures for the engine give it around 18,200 pounds of thrust.

The Kaveri engine is being developed by the Gas Turbine Research Establishment, a Defense Research and Development Organization laboratory in Bangalore in conjunction with other DRDO labs, academic institutions and industry partners.

The engine is similar to other combat jet engines, such as the Eurojet EJ200, General Electric F414, and Snecma M88. Its design is a variable-cycle, flat-rated engine and has 13 percent higher thrust than the General Electric F404-GE-F2J3 engines equipping India's Tejas prototypes.

Last month, the Ministry of Defense's Aeronautical Development Agency opted for GE's upgraded production variant of the F404, the F414, for the first production run of the Tejas. The Tejas has been using the F404 to power prototype Tejas aircraft.

To power the latest version of the Tejas, last month GE aviation defeated the Eurojet consortium in a procurement process that ended with allegations of improper behavior by a Eurojet agent in New Delhi and his eventual expulsion from India.

The Ministry of Defense is set to take 99 of the F414 units, an afterburning turbofan engine developed from the F404 turbofan for use in the Boeing F/A-18E/F Super Hornet. It was first run in 1993.

The single-engine, delta-wing Tejas -- Sanskrit for "radiant" -- is a lightweight multi-role fighter that first flew in January 2001.

Taking the initial engine order places GE in a good position to win many more.

The Indian air force is likely to need 200 single-seat and 20 two-seat trainers. The Indian navy is said to want up to 40 single-seaters to replace its aging fleet of Sea Harrier FRS51 and Harrier T60.

During its sea level flight trials off Goa on India's western coast, the Tejas reached more than 840 miles per hour, becoming the second supersonic fighter manufactured indigenously by Hindustan Aeronautics Limited, after the Marut.

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