The process of the up gradation of the Jaguar fighter aircraft which is already six years delayed by the state owned Hindustan Aeronautics Ltd will now be expedited. Acute shortage of spares, shortage of engines is a major cause of concern for the Indian Air Force (IAF) which has presently 118 SEPECAT Jaguar IS/IB/IM ground-attack aircraft in service. The IAF operates single-seat strike, IB (trainer) and IM (maritime) versions of the aircraft.
These deep penetration aircraft will get a new lease of life by the end of this year India has taken a decision to pick up spare parts and the decommissioned machines from air forces of other countries including France, Oman and the UK. Some officers hinted that India could even ask Ecuador in LatAm for the Jaguar machines which it has decommissioned.
“The government has reached out to the countries including Oman, UK, France and Ecuador, who have decommissioned these machines so that they can be cannibalised for their spare parts, “a senior officer told FE Online.
“The delay has also been due to the engines which need to be changed to make the Jaguar fly for the next 15-20 years. We have to have a proper engine,”he added.
Based on the information available, India will get 31 air frames from France, and Oman and the UK will give two each. These will come with engines, spare parts which are required urgently by the HAL for the upgrade for IAF.
Two Jaguar T-2 machines and 380 types of spares from the UK have to be shipped to India. Since these are gifts, transport costs have to be borne by the Indian government for which the modalities are being worked out. These frames will come in a semi knocked down state and will be put back together by IAF under the supervision of the HAL at the Gorakhpur Air Force Base.
India had imported 40 aircraft from the UK in 1979, which was followed by licensed production at HAL. Presently, IAF is the only one left operating these aircraft and the other countries including Ecuador, Nigeria, UK, and France have decommissioned them.
It may be recalled that the IAF which plans to operate these aircraft for the next one decade had upgraded part of its Jaguar fleet with new navigation and attack avionics, but the proposal to replace the engines with the more powerful ones has basically stalled the process.
According to a report in Jane’s Defence Weekly, France has agreed to supply the 31 Jaguar airframes as a gift while Oman has consented to donate two similar airframes as well as eight Rolls-Royce Adour engines and 3,500 lines of spares for the platforms. Also, the UK has offered two twin-seat Jaguar airframes and 619 lines of spares.
In view of the squadron of the IAF dwindling, according to senior IAF officers, cannibalizing is the best way to ensure that the Jaguars remain operational.