NEW DELHI — The Indian Air Force says it will not make an acquisition request for the British Advanced Hawk trainer aircraft.
The decision comes after the Ministry of Defence asked the service not request the aircraft following allegations that British company Rolls-Royce bribed officials of India's state-owned Hindustan Aeronautics Limited between 2005 and 2009 to secure orders for engines to power the British Hawk 132 advanced jet trainers meant for the Indian Air Force.
"We will not make any formal request for the Advanced Hawk to HAL, and the program will be officially shelved. This is because the MoD does not want [to] give additional orders for engines to tainted Rolls-Royce for the Advanced Hawk program," a senior IAF official said. "IAF has no intentions to place any order for the Advanced Hawk trainers."
British company BAE Systems and HAL signed a memorandum of understanding in 2015 to fund the development and production of a combat role-capable trainer to be marketed for both the domestic and export market.
"Lack of any orders for the Advanced Hawk trainers to be supplied by BAE Systems of UK will make it difficult for the commercial agreement with HAL to proceed further," a top MoD official said.
The Advanced Hawk made its debut at Aero India 2017 in Bangalore earlier this month.
"The Advanced Hawk has been in the work for two years under a unique model with Hindustan Aeronautics (HAL) and BAE Systems pooling resources to develop a faster, more agile Hawk that can also carry smart weapons," said Dave Corfield, BAE Systems head of Hawk India.
HAL has built avionics, a multifunction display system and wings for the Advanced Hawk aircraft, Corefield added.
BAE claims the Advanced Hawk has worldwide demand and can carry 3,000 kilograms of weapons including air-to-air missiles, air-to-ground missiles, laser designation pods and precision-guided munitions.
Last month, a British court was told that Rolls-Royce allegedly engaged middlemen to help the company secure deals in India for engine production for the Hawk trainer between 2005 and 2009. Indian law does not allow the involvement of middlemen in securing defense deals.
No MoD official would comment on whether there is a proposal to blacklist Rolls-Royce, and no Rolls-Royce executives were available for comment.
In November 2016, an internal MoD report concluded that Rolls-Royce paid bribes to secure orders for Adour Mk aero engines for the Hawk advanced jet trainer being produced by HAL under license from BAE Systems.
India had contracted 123 Hawk Mk-132 advanced jet trainers from BAE Systems for the IAF and the Navy.
Vivek Raghuvanshi is the India correspondent for Defense News.