IAF set to shelve Jaguar engine upgrade, could buy more Su-30 MKIs instead

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The Indian Air Force is set to shelve its plan for an engine upgrade of
the Jaguar deep penetration strike aircraft due to the high cost
involved. Instead, it could go in for additional Sukhoi Su-30 MKIs to
replace the aircraft that will be grounded, ThePrint has learnt.

Top
sources in the defence establishment said the Rolls-Royce Adour 811
engines of the 1980s vintage twin-engine aircraft have seen 15-30 per
cent reduction in thrust. This means the Jaguar cannot carry its full
load.

The IAF had planned to go in for an engine upgrade and had
selected US firm Honeywell’s F-125IN engines. But sources termed the
Jaguar upgrade programme as being an awkward state of affairs.

“The
price quoted by Honeywell and the HAL for ‘re-engining’ is just too
high. For the price of two such upgrades, we can get one basic Rafale,” a
source said.

Currently, the IAF operates a total of six
squadrons of the Jaguar. However, in actual strength, there are only
five squadrons, as the sixth is not a complete squadron.

Avionics upgrade won’t help ::

The
Jaguar is already undergoing an avionics upgrade — from Darin-I to
Darin-III standard — but this programme is seven years behind schedule.

“The
Darin-III upgrade is all about avionics and a better cockpit system.
However, the problem is with the engines. Since the thrust factor is
coming down, the aircraft is already flying with lower load during
peacetime operations as a precautionary measure,” a source said.

Sources
added that there would come a time when aircraft would be grounded as
and when their engine thrust comes below a specific point, as it would
put the pilots’ lives at risk.

IAF pilots have a morbid joke
among themselves that the Jaguar’s current engines are so underpowered
that in case of one engine failing, the second takes the aircraft to the
crash site, not back to safety.

More Sukhois ::

A source said the plan to procure more Sukhois was being considered because it could fulfil a similar role.

“One
plan is to order more Su-30 MKIs to replace those fighters that would
be grounded. As far as role is concerned, one Sukhoi can play the same
role as two Jaguars,” the source said.

“We can’t really afford to
ground the entire fleet if the engines become a problem. If we do that,
our fighter squadron strength will come down to that of Pakistan. Not
to forget that out of those 25 squadrons, we still have some of ageing
MiGs.”

 theprint



IAF set to shelve Jaguar engine upgrade, could buy more Su-30 MKIs instead