NEW DELHI — The Indian Air Force has dropped its plan to upgrade 80 Jaguar ground-attack fighters with new engines over the cost provided by American firm Honeywell.

The service had planned to equip its Jaguar fighters with 280 new Honeywell-built F125IN turbofan engines, but the cost of some $2.4 billion was too expensive, a senior Air Force official said. The new engines were to be integrated on 80 Jaguars by Indian state-owned company Hindustan Aeronautics Limited, which wanted $3.12 million per installation, an equally expensive ask, he added.

The Air Force in 2016 selected the F125IN on a single-vendor basis, and there were discussions to procure 280 of the turbofans (including 40 spare engines). The service wants to replace the Adour engine, which currently powers the Jaguar aircraft, with a higher-thrust engine to improve mission performance, particularly in medium- and high-level sorties, according to another Air Force official.

To keeping the existing Jaguar fleet operational, the Air Force last year directed Hindustan Aeronautics to procure airframes and spares from used, overseas Jaguars.

A company executive confirmed that the firm began such a search, and procured airframes, engines and multiple types of frequently used spare parts from France; two airframes, eight engines and spare parts from Oman; and two twin-seater aircraft and spare parts from the United Kingdom.

The Air Force lacks spare parts amid a stoppage in Jaguar production by Hindustan Aeronautics and the original equipment manufacturer BAE Systems, said an Indian Defence Ministry official.

The service operates 116 Jaguar fighter jets, of which 40 were bought from BAE Systems and the remaining were produced under licence by Hindustan Aeronautics. The Jaguar fleet will start phasing out in 2023.

Vivek Raghuvanshi is the India correspondent for Defense News.

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