Honeywell’s high cost threatens Jaguar fighter’s engine upgrade - Broadsword by Ajai Shukla - Strategy. Economics. Defence.

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Monday 21 January 2019

Honeywell’s high cost threatens Jaguar fighter’s engine upgrade

Future of four Jaguar squadrons uncertain as IAF puts project on hold

By Ajai Shukla
Business Standard, 22nd Jan 19

The plan to extend the service life of the Indian Air Force’s (IAF’s) Jaguar fleet, by equipping 80 of the fighters with new engines, is in trouble. Indian planners believe Honeywell, which is the sole vendor in the project, is demanding an exorbitant price to replace the Jaguar’s existing Rolls-Royce engines.

Hindustan Aeronautics Ltd (HAL), which is leading the project, has written to Honeywell protesting its “high and unacceptable quote”, which HAL says will “kill” the plan to re-engine the Jaguar.

IAF, HAL and Honeywell sources confirm the US firm has quoted $2.4 billion for 180 engines – which include 160 engines for 80 twin-engine Jaguars, and 20 spare engines. That amounts to $13.3 million (Rs 95 crore) per engine.

That has taken the cost of “re-engining” each Jaguar to a prohibitive Rs 210 crore, including Rs 20 crore per aircraft that HAL will charge to integrate the new engines in the fighter and to flight-test and certify them.

Business Standard learns that, given Honeywell’s high quote, the IAF has put on hold the next step of the Defence Procurement Procedure (DPP), which is to obtain the defence ministry’s “acceptance of necessity” (AoN) for the project.

The IAF currently has six Jaguar squadrons, comprising of 120 fighters. Only the 80 newest are getting new Honeywell engines, while the older 40 Jaguars will fly with their original Rolls-Royce engines until they retire in the early 2020s

If the “re-engine” project fails, all six Jaguar squadrons will retire. This would be a blow for IAF force planning, which counts on having four squadrons of “re-engined” Jaguars in service until 2035.

Contacted for comments, the IAF has not responded.

Business Standard has examined a detailed protest note that HAL sent to Honeywell this month, arguing that the US firm’s current $2.4 billion quote – which can be reduced to $1.9 billion by placing a consolidated order for development and manufacture – prices each engine at twice that of an earlier quote, submitted by Honeywell in 2013.

That quote was submitted when the plan was for Honeywell to supply 275 engines. That included 240 engines for all 120 Jaguars, plus 35 engines spare. For all these engines, Honeywell had demanded $1.634 billion, or just under $6 million per engine. 

HAL’s note to Honeywell points out that its current quote of $13.3 million per engine is more than double the 2013 quote. Even if a consolidated order were placed – which would bring down Honeywell’s cost to $1.9 billion, or $10.6 million per engine – that is still 75 per cent higher than the 2013 price.

In 2013, Honeywell was also responsible for integrating the F-125IN engines onto the Jaguar, flight-testing and certification, developing a new alternator to power the other aircraft systems and providing maintenance knowhow. The US firm had quoted an additional $2.1 billion for all this, taking the 2013 quote to $3.734 billion.

Given the unaffordability of this, HAL undertook to lead the project, assuming responsibility for integrating the F-125IN engine onto the Jaguar, and carrying out all the airframe modifications, aero analysis, flight-testing and certification that Honeywell was responsible for in the 2013 tender. While Honeywell had quoted $1.6 billion for this work in 2013, HAL has now quoted under $300 million.

Since Honeywell has not yet submitted a formal quote, it still has the opportunity to reduce its costs. The figures it has quoted are towards compiling a “rough order of magnitude” (ROM) cost, or a rough, ballpark figure for the IAF to obtain a green light from the defence ministry for the “re-engine” project. Honeywell’s high quote is forcing the IAF to rethink, but a revised ROM could set things back on track.

However, Honeywell sources tell Business Standard that, after years of delay and expenditure on the “re-engine” project, the company has concluded that the IAF is not serious about the contract and that it would serve no purpose to spend more money, resources and mind space on this.

Honeywell sources say they have spent at least $50 million, including on buying two old Jaguar fighters to physically integrate the F-125IN engine into those airframes. Another $50 million have been spent on expenses relating to the contract.

So exasperated is Honeywell that it insisted on charging HAL $73,000 for two visits by HAL officials in 2017 to its facility in Phoenix, Arizona to examine the integration work already done by Honeywell. The money also paid for a workshop for the ROM costing. “We will not spend a dollar more on this”, says a Honeywell executive.

Honeywell’s pessimism is also evident in the company’s decision not to participate in the Aero India 2019 show in Bengaluru in end-February.

The F-125IN engines, were India to order them, would be built in Taiwan by International Turbine Engine Company (ITEC), a joint venture between Honeywell and the Taiwanese government’s Aerospace Industrial Development Cooperation. ITEC builds the F-124 engine, which powers Taiwan’sF-CK-1 Ching-kuo fighter. The F-125IN is the same engine, with an afterburner to increase peak thrust. 

The Jaguar’s current Rolls-Royce Adour 804/811 engines deliver a maximum thrust of 32.5 KiloNewtons. In comparison, Honeywell’s F-125IN engines generate 40.4 KiloNewtons each, with full afterburners, providing it a significant combat edge.


  1. NSR says ---

    You have been writing this same article for years …
    this Jaguar engine upgrade becoming same as Mirage-2000 upgrade which cost $45 million per fighter and it did not even include a new engine..

    Definitely not worth it at all...

    Get back with Russia and buy their SU-34 Fullback which did very good job pounding ISIS in Syria along with old and trusted SU-25...

    Try to acquire at least 6 squadrons at cheapest possible rate with latest engine and avionics and armaments..and of course with full TOT and local manufacture...
    To entice full TOT, offer half of manufacturing to Russians...

    The engine has commonality with SU-30MKI engine... If they install AESA radar then it can also be installed in SU-30MKI...

    They definitely do not need the Jaguar anymore...
    Use $2.4 billions to fast track Tejas -II and develop fighter jet eco system...

    Time to shelve Jaguar permanently...

    So bargain hard to get

  2. Excellent. What Honeywell says true, no company worth its salt will waste its time.
    Time will come when companies will demand payment eve to fill up RFI. Forget about driving hard bargain.
    Let Tejas fire the gun, till then it is not a fighter at all .
    MoD has been doing an excellent job.

  3. Tejas at 400 cr is a better option


  4. NSR says ---

    Jaguar re-engine is at that expense and without TOT is not just worth it...
    They must keep improving as much as they can using Indian technology and possibly lower powered Kaveri engine to extend life...

    Another great idea is to use the $2.4 billion and some extra money to order another 36 Rafales immediately...
    The India specific and maintenance infrastructure development costs are already built in the first 36 fighters...
    So next 36 or more will be drastically cheaper..

    Rafale will be a force multiplier so it should be seriously considered...

    Rafale and accelerating Tejas II development and induction should solve many of India's reuirements and also develop indigenous aerospace infrastructure..

    I hope that India starts armed forces to take ownership of development platforms to quicken the pace of local product manufacturing. ...

  5. India made a big mistake by attempting to make a multi-role fighter. Should have gone for specialised single role aircraft and built on that. IAF wants aircraft to do a bit of everything and even make toast. No expertise in country and over ambitious and over optimistic! Now pay for this. They have you over a barrel.

    Tejas would not be the mess it is had it been only built for 1 role(ground attack or air superiority). Cheap and in numbers would do the job. Local industry, local jobs. Quantity has a quality of its own.

    Today you have 8-10 Tejas and a shortfall of >300 aircraft. India is not so wealthy to keep buying foreign.

  6. NSR says ---

    Jaguar does not stand a chance in the present day air and missile defenses...
    Pakistan already has latest Chinese equivalent of S-300...
    Pakistan already has latest Swedish Erieye AWACS planes..
    So stop pumping $2.4 billions into it...

    India should use Jaguar as technology demonstrator keeping it working with whatever spares they can produce and whatever they can cannibalize from the older fighters...

    India must upgrade Jaguar with locally and internationally procured systems until they gain enough state craft in fighter development and upgrade...

    I think they can fit most of Indian avionics, missiles, may be even a variant of Kaveri engine and Uttam AESA radar instead of Elta ELM-2052...

    Use the $2.4 billions to order immediately 36 Rafales and 72 SU-34 Fullback fighter bomber in G2G deal...
    SU-34 fullback pounded ISIS into submission...They stand better chance of evading present day missile defense systems than the Jaguars..

    I hope IAF makes a sane decision based on future operational requirements...

    Jaguar does not fit in any category when Tejas MkIA and II is coming soon...India can spend $2.4 billion on these program to accelerate them...

  7. Here's a great idea to reduce costs significantly. The IAF and HAL should wait another five years twiddling their thumbs! The Jaguars will rust away and if India's even luckier, the F125 engine will go out of production. Costs will reduce to zero. guaranteed!

    Indians seem to think that time stands still waiting for them to make their decisions! Crazy incompetent!

  8. Comparative costs... vis-a-vis... RD33... M88... F404... F414... GTX-35VS... AL-31F... AL-41F1S... better understanding...

  9. The IAF should seriously reconsider their force structure. This may actually be a blessing in disguise. The money saved from retiring the Jaguars and from spending on this deal can be used to buy more Rafales and Tejas Mark 1A/2.

    With the rise of multi role aircraft's and the decline of specialist aircraft's a study should be conducted to evaluated to examine whether we really need 42/45 squadrons. The IAF must use their resources wisely. They should only have 3 fighter aircraft's in their inventory. Having so many different types of end up amounting to a logistics and maintenance nightmare. Their force structure should be somewhere along the following.

    From 2020 to 2040
    Heavy Fighters- Su30MKI
    Medium Fighters- Dassault Rafale
    Light Fighter - Tejas

    All MIG series aircraft's, Jaguars and Mirage 2000's should be retired in this period. This will result in huge cost savings for the IAF. Maintaining older fighters is very costly. As the cost of fighters spirals upwards and our slow moving capital acquisition budget we will not be able to keep up with an extremely large and diverse Air force. So we must use our resources wisely

    From 2040 onwards

    We should only look at 1 or 2 fighter types with sixth gen tech.

    Heavy/Medium Fighter Role -AMCA (Replacing Rafales and Su30MKI)
    Light Fighter - Tejas (Advanced Derivatives)

    The bottom line of the story is that IAF must plan their force structure and look at ways to save money from their operational budget to use for their capital budget. Production of Tejas and AMCA should be handed over to Private and Public Sector companies to keep up with the demand of the IAF. Doing this will build a real ecosystem for the aerospace industry in the country.

  10. why do we behave like a short cashed frustrated salary man who has no spare cash to add a new accessory to his car. For once, buy or build the aircraft u want. and for godsake stop buying from usa

  11. NSR says ---

    They can't get to DARIN-III upgrade...
    How can they do the engine upgrade?
    It is definitely not worth it at all...

    Try to go to private companies like L&T, Tata, etc

    Goo for SU-34 and SUper Sukhoi-30MKI with full, absolutely full TOT, and save IAF and India..

    Engine in Jaguar must not be a priority at all...

    SU-34 bombed the ISIS,, Nusra front, etc into massive destruction and submission..

    May be they can also go with F-16-Block 70 if they have money...

  12. NSR says ---

    Col. Shukla, can you do a deep analysis of cost of upgrade before you write this kind of articles...

    GE F-404 comes for about $6 million and F-414 comes for only $10 millions...
    Why should India spend $22 to 27 million dollars for each fighter and that is just for engines for this 40 year old airframe...

    Then add cost of ELM-2052 AESA radar, EW, Targeting pod, DARIN III, etc
    Add HAL cost overruns...
    Then each upgrade will be at least $40 to 45 millions...
    Just not worth it...

    I wrote many times on your blog that F-125IN should be about $5 million with even TOT...

    If not, then GE F-414 based Tejas-II will be a worthwhile option and will be a brand new fighter...
    India must stop this stupid upgrade business...

    Jaguar is a fighter bomber so SU-34 on a G2G will also make sense as the Sukhoi engine and avionics eco system is same...

    I hope that you will respond... Thank you...

  13. I agree with above comments . Buy 36 more rafale .
    Then 2 squadrons of MiG29. The gap will be filled.
    Su30 is too expensive to operate. Two person crew too.
    Let 110 Low Cost single engine fighter F16 be bought and made in India with IGA from US.

    The problem with Tejas is it cannot defend itself over enemy skies, no gun.
    When will that happen ?
    Is the selected gun suitable or a modern Low recoil gun should be selected ?
    What is the issue , gas injection into engine or high vibrations ?
    What is the timeline to solve the gun problem ?

  14. So much for 'ease of doing business'!

  15. Buying more Rafales without ToT will save a lot of time. Seriously ToT in India is like handing a book to a child that does not know the alphabet. Its just going to take a long time to absorb and get any results. Buying Rafales commercially off the shelf is much more beneficial at the moment. Use offsets to gain benefits from Dassault. All foreign purchases should bring offsets. The offsets gained from additional Rafale or foreign purchases should be put in a MOD fund where it is subsequently used to fund defence tech startups, Tejas and AMCA R&D, Kaveri R&D and any relevant defense projects considered national priority. This approach will subsequently bring more results than any amount of ToT. Remember OFB sat on the Bofors blueprints for decades before they had the sense to develop that further to fulfill the army's needs for artillery guns.

    If they want to buy foreign let them only buy more of just 1 type of aircraft. Concentrate focus only on Rafales and scrap all other ides of Gripen/Vipers/Sukhoi's/Hornets/Migs.

    Use Tejas Mark 1/1A/2 to build technology and aerospace ecosystem. Rigorously fund AMCA and Kaveri developments and keep pushing the envelope for new tech.

  16. Super Sukhoi
    Tejas Mk1a

    This should be the way to go.

  17. NSR says ---

    It is not worth spending on this 40 year old airframe...

    Go to Tejas II quickly with lots of internal fuel tanks and convert it into Nuclear Strike mission too like Jaguar...

    Other quick fixes are ….

    36 more Rafales.. Very sensible as we already paid a lot to develop India specific stuff... We definitely need at least another 36 to operate properly...
    SU-34 fullback fighter bomber...synergy between SU-30MKI and SU-34 eco system...
    F-16 Block 70 production in India...To get as much TOT on engine, radars, avionics, etc

  18. Rafale has more than the double payload of Jaguar, if maintained correctly, assumes 5-6 daily missions (double+ than any Flanker/Fullback) and can be pushed to 10-11 daily missions for at least a full week (not tested further) in case of intensive needs... A Rafale, as a strike aircraft, does the job of 3 F-16, considering a Fullback won't do more than a F-16...
    Oh, BTW, as for the Su-34, Rafale can also take off with 12t payload and half fuel, then complete the fuel from an air-tanker, as planned for the Rafale MLA program to be used with the trimaran Aldebaran space-rocket weighting... 12 tons!

    Add to these that there are 18 optional Rafale in the 1st contract, so start by there, at least, these will come, although it's not enough.

    Now look at the Rafale offset : Dassault was required help to finalise Tejas... Sure, price may rise at $40-45M/unit but... As much thrust and fuel as Mirage-2000-9 (Emirati boosted version) while 1.8t lighter (M-2000-9 has 6.8t payload BTW)...
    Considering the Honeywell option costs $27M/Jaguar (without the mods on the aircraft)...
    The "definitive" "Super-Tejas" can also do the Jaguar's job and much more.

    Another interesting point : Malaysia ended giving up with MiG-29, since these ended costing $13M/unit/year to be kept airborne... And these are 10 years younger than IAF's ones. With such expenses, it pays for both the purchase and the use of a brand new Rafale which will age much slower, thanks to advanced composites etc...

    Note : be it Flanker or Fulcrum engines, both need to be fully returned to the factory for total overhaul every 1000 hours, A-31F is trashed after 3,000h, RD-33MK after 4,000h.
    Rafale's M88 1st overhaul of its core alone since the engine is modular? 4,000h... So the core is likely to last 16,000h and the engine may never be trashed, just some modules when they start to fail and may not be repaired...

    It's high time they start REALLY counting!
    Add to this that since Make in India Rafales and Tejas will share the same engine and radar, it'll greatly ease logistics, and these will be built at the Safran/HAL factory, no return at Russian Saturn or Klimov plants for maintenance... DRAL will pay taxes, employees will pay taxes...

    Another interesting point : due to serious economical pressures from China, Taiwan has biiig problems at getting new aircraft. All they could obtain from USA was upgrading their geriatric F-16A/B with F-16V systems, but the airframes are worn out... There'd be some ways to sell them Indian made Rafale and Super-Tejas.
    Israel also has worn out F-16 and F-15.
    F-35 is so expensive to buy and maintain, and knowing that India is Israel's #1 military client, again, proposing them both Rafale and "Super-Tejas" could make their day, maybe DRAL (or Dassault alone?) could open a factory there too. Israelis haven't forgiven the DeGaulle's snubs, nevertheless, they have fighter jets to replace and Putin is selling Su-35 and MiG-35 to everybody around, not speaking they consider selling Su-57 to Erdogan who looks more and more dangerous and hardcore Islamist every day...

    I estimate India is in need for 300-400 Super-Tejas and 300+ Rafale if we take INAF future needs in account, but it'd need 2 assembly lines for Rafale and 5 for Super-Tejas.
    With a delivery rate of 36 Rafale and 40 Super-Tejas a year starting in 2023, trying to prolong the life of the geriatric fleet is ridiculous.
    Even the purchase of 21 new-old-stock 1991 not assembled MiG-29 is ridiculous!

    Here's what to do : France has already retired many Mirage-2000 to store them under cocoons... Just lease them with the agreement that if France has urgent needs, these can be returned under 48-72 hours. It's likely a good hundred units which could help waiting the domestic production starts delivery, nevertheless, time is ripe!
    If no strong decision is fast tracked, soon PAF will outgun IAF and with them, you don't need to be a genius, it's written black on white in the 9th Surat!

  19. All BS in this article. Keep buying more Russian Junk and Keep losing to Pakistan in every engagement. Su30s are only good are running away from a fight. Their RCS if so large, they are useless. Mig 29 sucks. Only Indians bragg about flying Russian junk. Its like being proud and bragging at bar to a lady about driving a tractor, instead of a Ferrari. Indians are dumb. Nowonder 600 million indians were toiletteless untill modi came and built 130 million toilette's according to the U.N


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