Interview: Rolls-Royce working on opportunities for Adour, MTU engines for India armed forces

In an interview during DefExpo-2022, Rolls-Royce India and South Asia president Kishore Jayaraman tells our editor N. C. Bipindra that the company aims to partner the Indian Navy for design, development and deployment of India’s first electric warship.

Q. Kindly provide an overview of the progress of Rolls-Royce’s supplies to the Indian armed forces going on at present?

Kishore Jayaraman, Rolls-Royce India and South Asia president.

A. Rolls-Royce has a rich legacy of serving the Indian armed forces for nine decades. Today, several Indian military aircraft, powered by over 750 Rolls-Royce engines of 10 engine types, are soaring the skies, including combat and strike aircraft, trainers, strategic airlift, VVIP and surveillance aircraft. Our dedicated Defence Service Delivery Centre in Bengaluru provides on-demand service to ensure mission-readiness of the engines in service with Indian military today.

Our MTU engines power several Indian Coast Guard and Indian Navy vessels, with service team present at several locations along the coastline. MTU engines also power India’s first indigenously designed and built Arjun Main Battle Tank.

Our partnership with Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL), spanning over 70 years, can be termed the original ‘Make in India’ story. We are the only engine company to have successfully transferred whole engine technology outside of its home market and continue to support the creation of a strong aerospace and defence ecosystems in India through such partnerships.

As India strengthens it defence capabilities to be future-ready, Rolls-Royce is well-positioned with the right products, experience and capabilities to deliver end-to-end power and propulsion solutions tailored to meet the country’s defence needs.

Q. Where has Rolls-Royce set its eyes on in India for its business growth in the days to come? What are the possible programmes of the Indian armed forces for which Rolls-Royce has offers from its portfolio of products?

A. In India, we are well-positioned today with a strong ecosystem of Indian partners, talent, supply chain, digital, service delivery and manufacturing capabilities. We have been manufacturing and sourcing in India with Indian partners for 70 years. Backed by our strengths, we are now ready to partner India for combat engine co-development. Our rich experience in engine development, a team of highly skilled engineers as well as robust R&D, makes us the perfect fit for future engine co-development programmes. We believe that such a programme will lead to technology and capability creation in-country with India owning Intellectual Property (IP). This will not only build the foundation for India to achieve indigenisation capabilities for future but also help India gain share in the global defence exports market. With our commitment to support India’s defence indigenisation goals, we are excited to explore opportunities in this space.

File Photo: MTU Series-8000 engines.

We are also well-positioned to support Indian Navy as it builds the fleet of the future. Our technologically superior offerings including full-electric propulsion solutions as well as the MT30, the most power dense gas turbine in service today that is suitable for next generations warships. We have signed an MoU with HAL to provide packaging, installation, marketing and services support for MT30 marine engines in India. We believe that with our deep experience of supporting the electrification of warships over many years including the world’s first full-electric naval programme for the United Kingdom’s Queen Elizabeth Carrier Strike Group vessels, we have the capabilities to partner the Indian Navy for design, development and deployment of India’s first electric warship.

At DefExpo, we are also showcasing the company’s state-of-the-art MTU propulsion and automation solutions for naval vessels, including Series 8000 engines for large surface vessels, Series 4000 engines for submarines and the new comprehensive MTU NautIQ ship automation portfolio, consisting of reliable, efficient and future-proof control and management solutions, from bridge to propeller.

Q. What shall be Rolls-Royce’s strategy and outlook towards the ‘Make in India’ and ‘Aatmanirbar Bharat’ (Self-Reliant India) push of the Indian government, with the company’s vast experience working with Indian armed forces, public and private sector companies such HAL for years now?

A. Rolls-Royce believes in the power of defence indigenisation and supports India’s vision of an ‘Atmanirbhar Bharat’. We remain committed to support India’s vison of self-reliance in defence, through collaboration opportunities to co-design, co-develop and co-produce fighter jet engines in the country. We believe we are well-positioned to help leapfrog this journey through meaningful partnerships for co-creation of critical, high-thrust combat engine technology. True self-reliance will come when such a partnership not only results in Intellectual Property (IP) ownership in India, but shared creation of capabilities in-country to indigenise defence technology in the future.

File Photo: Adour Mk871 engines.

We have carved out our own ‘Make in India’ success story, which started over 70 years ago with Rolls-Royce partnering HAL for whole engine technology transfer, whereby Rolls-Royce has been manufacturing defence engines in India. We continue to build on this relationship to deliver service excellence and supply chain capabilities. We are also working towards making Adour Mk871 engine parts in India for several international customers, building on HAL’s capabilities and existing strengths in serving the Indian customers. These partnerships are strengthening Rolls-Royce’s regional service footprint, helping India emerge as a global hub for defence sourcing, assembly and MRO services. Through the growing partnership with HAL, Rolls-Royce has further reinforced its commitment to serve the Indian Air Force and enable the mission capability of the fleet.

Our Joint Venture with HAL — International Aerospace Manufacturing Private Limited (IAMPL) — is today fully accredited benchmark manufacturing facility within the Rolls-Royce supply chain. Through this journey, we have also successfully forged partnerships with leading private sector players like Bharat Forge, Godrej & Boyce, Force Motors, and the Tata Group for our supply chain ecosystem.

Rolls-Royce also has a long-standing association with the Indian Navy and Indian Coast Guard, with our state-of-the-art MTU engines powering several naval and coast guard vessels. We look forward to exploring more opportunities to serve the navy with our advanced technology platforms and power solutions.

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