BENGALURU, India — After waiting years for a request for proposals (RFP), Rolls-Royce is pulling out of the competition to upgrade India’s fleet of 120 twin-engine Jaguar fighters.
The reasons for the company’s decision have been relayed to the Indian defense ministry, according to a source close to the bidding process. Rolls-Royce and its competitor Honeywell, which is offering its F125IN engine for the Jaguar, attended a pre-bid meeting last November.
Rolls-Royce’s Adour Mk821 is currently installed on the Jaguars. From the outset, the company’s proposal was for an engine upgrade program rather than a re-engining, but the eventual RFP called for a new engine rather than an upgrade. Rolls argued an upgraded Adour would minimize aircraft integration issues and utilize the existing Adour infrastructure at Hindustan Aeronautics Ltd. It is not clear why the RFP took a different approach.
The Jaguars have slowly become overweight and underpowered as a result of avionics and weapon systems upgrades.
In July 2010, a Rolls-Royce spokesman said that the Adour Mk821 “will provide the proven … lowest-risk solution for certification, production, transition and operational phases. It also provides economies of scale with the Hawk AJT [Advanced Jet Trainer] engine, already manufactured in India.”
Honeywell refused to comment on the Rolls-Royce engine. “We are excited to be part of the competition,” says Mike Madsen, president of Honeywell Defense and Space. The F125IN, he says, is 600 lb. lighter than the Rolls engine and would enable 25% shorter high-hot takeoffs.
Honeywell and HAL have been collaborating to produce the TPE331 engine that powers the HAL-built Dornier 228 aircraft. An agreement was signed in 2008 to turn engine production over to HAL, making it the first aerospace engine to be fully manufactured in India for the world market.
The Indian government will now have to decide if it can accept a single-vendor approach for the Jaguars.