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Rolls-Royce pitches for A-I, AJT deal

January 31, 2003 16:16 IST

Rolls-Royce plc, a UK-based aero engine giant, announced on Friday that it was bidding for engines for Air India's 2.2 billion aircraft acquisition plan and was also hopeful of the deal for the Hawk Advanced Jet Trainer, powered by Adour engines, going through soon, Tim Jones, managing director of Rolls-Royce India said in New Delhi.

He said for Air-India's long haul aircraft, his company was offering the "world leader Trent 800 engines.”

His statement comes even as top officials of several multinational armament giants are in India to pitch for the lucrative defence contracts worth billions of dollars in anticipation of government giving the go-ahead in the next two weeks to the long pending defence deals.

The French Prime Minister Jean Pierre Raffarin, Italian Defence Minister Antonio Martino and high-level delegations from the Czech Republic, Russia and UK are also to attend the upcoming Aero-India 2003 at Bangalore.

Major participants at the Bangalore Air Show would include Lockheed Martin, Boeing, Airbus, Rolls-Royce, Dassault, Raytheon, Bell Helicopters and others as officials indicated that major deals like the Advanced Jet Trainer and acquisition of French Scorpene submarines are likely to sail through.

Jones said a major announcement was expected at the air show, probably for a tie-up with state-owned Hindustan Aeronautics Ltd for licensed production of the medium range transport aircraft to replace the ageing Antonov-32.

Jones said his company was in negotiations with the government to bid for its advanced Trent-800 aero engines to power Boeing 777-200 Extended Range aircraft, if Air-India opts for the aircraft.

Boeing's 777-200 ER and European aircraft consortium Airbus' A340-300 aircraft have been shortlisted for evaluation by Air-India. The country's flagship carrier would acquire 10 aircraft with options for seven more.

Air-India is also acquiring 18 short range aircraft of 160-seater plus category, worth over $1.5 billion, during the next five years.

Boeing and Airbus have been asked to place their bids for 737-900 and A321 aircraft respectively.

Saying that the company was competitively bidding for the project, Jones disclosed that the company had submitted initial bids in response to bids called for.

Expressing confidence that India would finally opt for the British Hawk AJT, Jones said the Hawk trainers being offered to India "were incrementally modernised" with upgraded avionics, hydraulics and advanced cockpit.

India plans to acquire 66 Hawks, 22 outright and 44 to be manufactured under licence by HAL. The pound 1.2 billion deal has got stuck over price and the British Prime Minister Tony Blair had personally intervened twice to push the British Aerospace offer.

The interest of these armaments giants has been fuelled by reports that India today stood second only to the United Arab Emirates as the largest arms importer with a staggering $7,200 million worth of imports in the last five years.

The interest of the companies has been spurred by the government's new policy of offering 30 per cent of the total contract prices of the armaments in direct dollar payments.

The British aerospace Hawk AJT, which is powered by the Rolls-Royce Adour engine as well as its rival, the Czech-Boeing L159, and Russia's MIG-AT would be on live display at the Bangalore air show.

Describing the Adour engine, Tim Jones said they had been bought by the US Navy and adapted for use on aircraft carriers.

Elaborating on the mediun transport aircraft project for the Indian armed forces, he said his company was offering the 'BR715' engine, which is a collaboration between BMW and Rolls-Royce and which powers aircraft like the Gulfstream 5 and Bombardier Global Express.

"We are exploring ideas with HAL on manufacturing, design production, software development and engineering," Jones said adding, the company had also commenced work on India's first-ever project worth $30 million at Karwar Naval Base and hoped this would lead to more orders from commercial as well as naval side.

Rolls-Royce, which is also involved in captive power generation, was currently in talks with domestic companies for making diesel and gas based power plants.

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