Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Rolls Royce drops out of IAF’s Jaguar race

SOURCE : Hindustan Times
The Indian Air Force’s plans to equip its Jaguar deep penetration strike fighters with a new and more powerful engine have hit a hurdle, with UK’s Rolls Royce dropping out of the race to re-engine the plane. Roll Royce’s withdrawal from the competition has left US firm Honeywell as the only one angling for the $670 million (Rs 3,015 crore) order for powering the twin engine fighter with new engines (re-engining in air force parlance).
The IAF had invited bids from the two firms for 200 engines.
The British firm’s last minute decision to stay clear of the tender has created a single vendor situation, one that could slow down the Jaguar’s re-engining programme.
The defence ministry may have to re-open the competition and invite fresh bids. Also, defence procurement rules lay down that if certain equipment being manufactured by only one vendor has to be bought, to gain an edge over India’s adversaries, the case would have to be debated by the defence acquisition council after a through technology scan.
Rolls Royce’s Adour Mk 811 engines currently power the Jaguars, inducted in late 1970s.
Former IAF vice chief Air Marshal PK Barbora (retd) said, “The thrust generated by the existing engines has dropped over the years. The underpowered engines impact the all up weight of the aircraft. The re-engining programme is a crucial one for the IAF.”
Rolls Royce, the second largest engine maker in the world, had offered the IAF its Adour Mk821 powerplant, an upgraded variant of the existing engine. Honeywell, on the other hand, had tossed its hat in the ring for the re-engining race with its F125 IN engine.
IAF deputy chief Air Marshal RK Sharma said, “This is a re-engining contract and not an engine upgrade programme. We expect the two bidders to respond by the month end.” Sources close to the bidding process have confirmed that Rolls Royce has informed the IAF that it would not be responding to the request for proposal and that the reasons behind the decision had been explained.

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