29 Jan 02. The first of 62 Jaguar GR3a aircraft powered by upgraded Adour engines was officially handed over to the Defence Logistics Organisation on 28 January. The aircraft flew from BAE SYSTEMS Warton to RAF Coltishall in Norfolk on 24 January.
This handover represents a major milestone in the £105m contract let to BAE SYSTEMS by the Defence Logistics Organisation’s Equipment Support (Air). BAE SYSTEMS Customer Solutions and Support business is prime contractor and has worked with ES (Air) and Rolls Royce to develop and integrate the engines with the aircraft.
Following an extensive development and test programme BAE SYSTEMS and Rolls Royce declared themselves very pleased with the engine performance and its handling.
Over the years the basic all-up weight and drag of the aircraft have increased, causing the current engines to have to work much harder. An investment appraisal showed that an engine modification using the latest Adour technology, already proven in the export market, was the most cost effective option to reduce operating costs and overcome the operating shortfalls in a timescale that would realise Life Cycle Cost (LCC) benefits. The modified engine is intrinsically more powerful than the Mk104 but will be configured to optimise engine life cycle costs and thus produce maximum savings. In addition to the increased reliability and lower operating costs, even in its optimised condition the Mk106 engine will provide a modest increase in thrust over the Mk104.
The first two aircraft have been converted at BAE SYSTEMS Warton. The remainder will be converted at DARA St Athan with the last aircraft scheduled for completion by the end of 2005.
Engine conversion from the old Adour Mk104 to the new Mk106 is taking place at the Rolls-Royce East Kilbride repair and overhaul facility.
Comment: At a recent briefing at Warton BAE SYSTEMS and the DPA told BATTLESPACE that the increase in thrust achieved by this conversion was a ‘welcome’ 5% as this had not been built into the requirement which was more based on reliability. However, it has been known for some time, since the introduction of the jaguar, that the aircraft suffered from thrust problems, particularly on take-off and some pilot ejections have been reported. £105m is a lot of money to spend on updating an aircraft that is reportedly coming out of service in 2010!
This contract could indicate two options, one that the aircraft is to remain in service longer than 2010 to spread Eurofighter deliveries over a longer period or that the engine problems had caused greater pilot safety problems, particularly in hot countries, than previously reported?